ADD Reading Group: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

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In a joint effort with our friends at Camp Nutria (the attempt of some Austinites at regressing in style), Gather Round, Children brings you the first in a series of questions meant to guide readers safely through the dialectic without getting chewed up by the many pages, the flowy prose, or the loquacity of that guy who will not admit that he has only read the first 30 pages and got the gist of the rest of it from the internet. (Hint: When that guy pauses to reload intellectual jargon, simply cut in with, “Next question.”)

 Lolita: Discussion Questions

lolita

1. What do you think of the cover of the book? The one with the sexy lips on it? Do you find the lips to be sexy? If you do, does that make you a pedophile?

2. According to the first chapter, Dolores Haze had many names: Lo, Lola, Lolita, etc. Discuss other figures in popular culture who have many names. (Example: Sean “Puffy” Combs or Jennifer Lopez, who dated each other for a time.) Is it a coincidence that Jennifer Lopez goes by J-Lo and Dolores goes by “Lo, plain Lo, in the morning” or is Lopez consciously drawing a parallel between herself and Haze, hoping she will remain young in the eyes of her public? If yes, did the semi-creepy gamble pay off? If no, you have to admit that it’s quite a coincidence.

3. Look out the window. What do you see?

4. Should Humbert be admired for writing so eloquently while in prison? You know what they do to pedophiles in prison, don’t you?

5. Have you ever dated someone because you were interested in one of his or her family members? How did that work out for you?

6. If gay marriage is ever legalized, won’t guys like Humbert just be running rampant?

7. Lolita had her first sexual experience at summer camp. Is this common? Go around the room and discuss your own “summer camp firsts”. Include smoking/drug use in addition to kissing/more than kissing. Do these experiences make you hesitant about sending your own children to summer camp?

8. What song is playing through each of your heads right now? If two of you had the same song in your head, laugh at what a coincidence that is.

9. Humbert murders Quilty. Was that the right thing to do? Is there a “Quilty” in your own life (someone you have killed)?

10. In the movie, Quilty is played by Peter Sellers. Are any modern character actors as interesting as Sellers? Johnny Depp?

11. Would you let Vladimir Nabakov baby-sit your daughter?

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8 thoughts on “ADD Reading Group: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

  1. Amanda-panda-da-danda-da says:

    1. What?
    2. J-lo stands for Jennifer Lopez, you moron.
    3. A building.
    4. Gross.
    5. This one guy dated me to get to my sister. They’re now married.
    6. …
    7. Better they learn at camp than on the streets.
    8. “I’m a Slave 4 U” and I HATE that song.
    9. Nope.
    10. Never heard of the first guy. I love Johnny.
    11. I would never let Voldemort baby-sit my kid because I will have a female-only rule.

    Who made these questions? Speaking of people I wouldn’t let baby-sit!

  2. Brent-panda-da-danda-da says:

    1. I really hope those are 18 and older lips.
    2. Weiiiiiiird.
    3. 13 and 14 year old girls. I work at a middle school.
    4. It’s his release.
    5. I dated a girl and her sister was smoking hotter. I couldnt do anything about it.
    6. Yes. Team Romney ’08
    7. Good ol’ Teen Camp.
    8. “I’m a Slave 4 U” Weiiiiiiird.
    9.

  3. Brent-panda-da-danda-da says:

    1. I really hope those are 18 and older lips.
    2. Weiiiiiiird.
    3. 13 and 14 year old girls. I work at a middle school.
    4. It’s his release.
    5. I dated a girl and her sister was smoking hotter. I couldnt do anything about it.
    6. Yes. Team Romney ’08
    7. Good ol’ Teen Camp.
    8. “I’m a Slave 4 U” Weiiiiiiird.
    9. Yes. Well, it hasn’t all worked out yet. But Gabe Durham.
    10. Tom f’in Cruise. Or Vin Deisel.
    11. Thats kinda touchy.

  4. Gabe says:

    Wow, Brent, you and Amanda have a LOT in common! WINK!!

  5. Lamberakis says:

    1. I find the lips insolent. Don’t you?

    2. Wasn’t it tabloids that started the J-Lo thing? Does anyone whose name is Dolores now have this cross to bear, too? Plus, she doesn’t call herself anything. It’s all Humbert Humbert, remember? The world’s most unreliable narrator?

    3. Lizards, piles and piles of lizards.

    4. Ack. Should Humber Humbert be admired for being a figment of Nabokov’s imagination? Humbert Humbert shouldn’t be anything. He doesn’t exist. The novel exists.

    5. I’ve never done this, no, but I’ve befriended friends of people I was interested in dating. Meh.

    6. What does gay marriage have to do with pedophilia?

    7. No. What my children do with their bodies is their business. If you were saying that rape is more likely to occur in summer camp, then I’d worry.

    8. Something about a slaveowner… mmmh. Dunno.

    9. Not intentionally. I ran over a bird once and I still feel guilty.

    10. Downey, Jr.

    11. Would you let Victor Hugo near your good silver? Would you allow Fyodor Dostoevski within ten paces of your pawnshop?

  6. Gabe says:

    OK Lam, I’ll break character for a minute because this is important: Gay marriage has nothing to do with pedophilia. However, homophobes have gotten a dangerous amount of mileage out of the corrolation. Hence the delicious satire.

    And good question about Victor Hugo. Personally, I would allow him near my good silver KNOWING that he would take it. Then, when he is caught, I would get him off the hook and give him my candlestick as well (or modern translation: a four-pack of light bulbs). But then, I am a very good person. Not everyone would be as generous!!

  7. Lamberakis says:

    Hmmm. Give him your candlestick, eh? No wonder you love that Nabokov so much! (See how I went from candlestick to “you must be gay” to “that means you’re a pedophile, and since Nabokov is a big dirty old man…”? It’s kind of creepy how much press pedophiles are getting lately, isn’t it? Do you watch “To Catch a Predator”?)

    Also, didn’t you think the Downey, Jr. thing was right on? No one can touch Sellers, of course. But RDJ has really surprised me with his staying power and that certain je ne sais quois.

  8. Suse says:

    Your pictures are great. notem6715

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