Tuesday, December 27, 2016

SECRET LOLITA: Italian (Pre)Teen Prostitutes Inspire Nabokov's LOLITA?

Alex Beam wrote in The Feud: Vladimir Nabokov, Edmund Wilson, and the End of a Beautiful Friendship that in June of 1948, Wilson sent Nabokov a copy of "Confession Sexuelle d'un Russe du Sud" that was deemed by psychologist Havelock Ellis to be an authentic memoir of the "sexual  odyssey" of a wealthy Ukrainian engineer. 

"Confession Sexuelle d'un Russe du Sud" was translated into Secret Lolita: The Confessions of Victor X by Donald Rayfield - an emeritus professor of Russian and Georgian at Queen Mary University of London. Here's a conservative excerpt that describes two of the Italian pre-teen prostitutes:
"I was sent with some colleagues to Naples by my firm’s management [...] If you buy something in a shop, the shopkeeper, who may look quite respectable, will offer to show you a little girl of twelve, ten or eight. Pimps accost strangers in the street offering them little girls [...] Families who are not badly off and who have some standing, petty shopkeepers, clerks, tailors, cobblers also traffic in their prepubescent girls. For the reasonable price of twenty, thirty, forty francs you are just allowed to have fun or to play with them.
If you want to deflower one, that costs more [...] 

The two little girls were both as expert as each other [...] They were very sensual but, oddly enough, the younger one was even more so than her sister. [S]he had violent orgasms when she looked like someone in death-throes, and secreted copiously. She adored obscene talk, photographs and reading, and used her erotic talents enthusiastically. When I came to the house, her face beamed with joy. I remember the deeply heartbroken, unhappy look she had one day when, to save money, I said I would made do with just the older girl. When afterwards I came out of the bedroom after that session, I saw the younger girl sitting on a chair by the door listening, her face sallow with vexation, trembling all over with frustration. She was overjoyed the next time when it was her turn to be asked for. She started dancing."
What we know is that Wilson and Nabokov, to Vera's dismay, exchanged erotic literature. At least some of the bawdy texts were non-fiction and profiled nymphets. Nabokov was so fond of this particular text that he wrote about it in the English and Russian versions of his autobiography. 

For example, In Speak, Memory he wrote that the "'sexual confessions' (to be found in Havelock Ellis and elsewhere), [...] involve tiny tots mating like mad."  And we know that "Confession Sexuelle d'un Russe du Sud", according to Wilson, "no doubt inspired Lolita". 


  1. "She adored obscene talk, photographs and reading.." Imagine That, I like that stuff as well.