Gabriel Smy by flickr

“Lolita,light of my fire,fire of my loins. My sin,my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the plate to tap, at three,on the teeth.Lo.Lee.Ta.”

Ci sono libri dei quali si teme la lettura; le ragioni sono personali,i timori molto spesso infondati.Per molti anni ho voluto,intenzionalmente,tenermi alla larga dagli esistenzialisti per averne letto il manifesto di Sartre(motivo sufficiente a spiegare le ragioni di questa scelta),da Samuel Beckett, William Faulkner,Jorge Luis Borges-senza nessuna ragione in particolare(se non per il fatto di non ritenermi all’altezza della lettura e alla partecipazione critica ed empatica delle idee).
Ricordo di un libro,letto in adolescenza,di Luciano De Crescenzo-credo Panta Rei,nel quale lo scrittore racconta di una donna della quale si innamora perchè in grado di poter citare Finnegans Wake a memoria; inutile nascondere sono stata intrigata da questa sfida e ho desiderato potervi riuscire anch’io (sebbene consapevole quello di James Joyce un capolavoro della letteratura assai esclusivo,cui lettura è riservata a quei pochi in grado di smisurata conoscenza letteraria-che io non ho).
Forse un giorno.Il bello della letteratura sta proprio nel consentire a ciascuno,attraverso la lettura,di esplorare diversi,differenti,stati dell’essere a cavallo la pluralità di personaggi e storie,apparentemente diversi,fondamentalmente unici e peculiari l’uomo e la vita, i dubbi,le tensioni ideali, i moti dello spirito,le piccole battaglie interiori,gli armistizi dell’anima.Molti sottovalutano il potere indagativo,rivelativo,conoscitivo della letteratura,e riducono la lettura a perditempo,gli scrittori a giocolieri del verbo,mentre è alla letteratura e agli scrittori che bisogna riconoscere il merito d’avere esemplificato il temperamento di un’epoca,descritto l’umore della storia,ponderato patemi esistenziali,indugiato alternative,dal punto di vista intellettuale e sentimentale,emotivo e descrittivo,metafisico e reale.
Vorrà suonare strano,ma c’è un romanzo che,per qualche ragione,non ho mai avuto il coraggio leggere finora e questo romanzo è Lolita di Vladimir Nabokov.Probabilmente perchè suggestionata dalla critica sbrigativa e spicciola che se n’è sempre fatta per schedulare la trama entro uno steriotipo un po’accattivante/un po’ commiserativo-forse,o forse perchè insofferente all’idea di un uomo di mezza età attratto in maniera morbosa da una-appena dodicenne-ragazzina. In realtà,per comprendere le ragioni che fanno di Lolita un capolavoro meraviglioso della letteratura,e i motivi per cui lo stesso è considerato essere uno dei migliori classici del ventesimo secoli,è necessario leggerlo in inglese,perchè è soltanto in inglese, a mio parere, che questo romanzo si rivela in tutto il suo incredibile fascino narrativo; c’è niente di più misurato e sentimentale della prosa, del piglio visionario a contorno delle immagini a onore della ninfetta Lolita suggerite da Humbert.
Quello che secondo me è importante sottolineare per rendere onore al romanzo,non è tanto la trama( uomo attempato che si innamora di una dodicenne smaliziata,personificazione del Complesso di Elettra) quanto la psicologia di questo amore. Humbert si innamora di Lolita perchè è tramite Lolita che Humbert ritorna ragazzino; il richiamo,in questo romanzo,è a quell’amore smaliziato e puro della prima infanzia,poi dell’adolescenza,che poco ha a che fare con quello adulto,spesso controverso, difficoltoso, impegnativo, cerebrale,complesso. L’amore di Humbert per Lolita è un amore semplice,fatto ancora di sensazioni,di ricordi legati alla prima infanzia, al sapore, all’odore delle cose,alla primordialità degli istinti,d’amore,di passione,di pudore,di paure,di sussulti e nostalgie.
Lolita, rappresenta per Humbert l’incarnazione di Annabel,primo amore dell’uomo,morta in giovane età, e insieme,la possibilità di riamarla,averla vicina,rivivere quell’amore mancato.Il riferimento è spicciolo,palese,reso già al terzo capitolo,con naturalezza e quasi pudore,tatto e malinconia.
A mio avviso frainteso da Kubrick in una prima rappresentazione cinematogrfica del 1962, merita la seppure smielata e pietosa interpretazione di Adrianne Lyne,del 1992.
A seguire il terzo e quarto capitolo
Cap 3
Annabel was,like the writer, of mixed parentage: half English, half Dutch, in her case. I remember her features far less distinctly today that I did a few years ago, before I knew Lolita. There are two kinds of visual memory : one when you skillfully recreate an image in the laboratory of your mind, with your eyes open (and then I see Annabel in such general terms as: “honey-colored skin,””thin arms,””brown bobbed hair,””long lashes,””big bright mouth”); and the other when you instantly evoke,with shut eyes, on the darl innerside of your eyelids, the objective, absolutely optical replica of a beloved face, a little ghost in natural colors(and this is how I see Lolita).
Let me therefore primly limit myself, in describing Annabel, to saying she was a lovely child a few months my junior. Her parents were old friends of my aunt’s and, as stuff as she. They had rented a villa not far from Hotel Mirama. Bald brow Mr.Leight and fat, powdered Mrs.Leight (born Vanessa van Ness). How I loathed them! At first, Annabel and I talked of peripheral affairs. She kept lifting handfuls of fine sand and letting it pour through her fingers. Our brains were turned the way those of intelligent European preadolescents were in our day and set, and I doubt if much individual genius should be assigned to our interest in the plurality of inhabited worlds, competitive tennis,infinity,solipsism and so on. The softness and fragility of baby animals caused us the same intense pain. She wanted to be a nurse in some famished Asiatic country; I wanted to be a famous spy.
All at once we were madly,crumsily,shamelessly, agonizingly in love with each other; hopelessly, I should add,because that frenzy of mutual possession might have been assuaged only by our actually imbibing and assimilating every particle of each other’s soul and flesh; but there we were, unbale even to mate as slum children would have so easily found an opportunity to do. After one wild attempt we made to meet at night in her garden (of which more later), the only privacy we were allowed was to be out of earshot but not out of sight on the populous part of the plage. There, on the soft sand, a few feet away from our eleders, we would sprawl all morning, in a petrified paroxysm of desire,and take advantage of every blessed quirk in space and time to touch each other; her hand, half-hidden in the sand, would creep toward me, its slender brown fingers sleepwalking nearer and nearer; then, her opalescent knee would start on a long cautious journey; sometimes a chance rampart built by younger children granted us sufficient concealment to graze each other’s salty lips; these incomplete contacts drove our healthy and inexperienced young bodies to such a state of exasperation that not even the cold blue water, under which we still clawed at each other,could bring relief.
Among some treasures I lost during the wanderings of my adult years, there was a snapshot taken by my aunt which showed Annabel, her parents and the staid, elderly,lame gentleman, a Dr.Cooper, who that same summer courted my aunt, grouped around a table in a sidewalk café. Annabel did not come out well, caught as she was in the act of bending over her chocolat glacé, and her thin bare shoulders and the parting in the hair were about all that could be identified ( as I remember that picture) amid the sunny blur into which her lost loveliness graded; but I, sitting somewhat apart from the rest, came out with a kind of dramatic conspicuousness; a moody, beetle-browed boy in a dark sport hirt and well-tailored white shorts, his legs crossed, sitting in profile, looking away. That photograph was taken on the last day of our fatal summer and just a few minutes before we made our second and final attempt to thwart fate. Under the flimsiest of pretexts ( this was our very last chance, and nothing really mattered) we escaped from the café to the beach, and found a desolate stretch of sand, and there, in the violet shadow of some red rocks forming a kind of cave, had a brief session of avid caresses, with somebody’s lost pair of sunglasses for only witness. I was on my knees, and on the point of possessing my darling, when two bearded bathers, the old man of the sea and his brother, came out of the sea with exclamations of ribald encouragement, and four months later she died of typhus in Corfu.
                                                                         Cap 4
I leaf again and again through these miserable memories, and keep asking myself, was it then, in the glitter of that remote summer, that the rift in my life began; or was my excessive desire for that child only the first evidence of an inherent singularity? When I try to analyze my own cravings, motives, actions and so forth, I surrender to a sort of retrospective imagination which feeds the analytic faculty with boundless alternatives and which causes each visualized route to fork and re-fork without end in the maddeningly complex prospect of my past. I am convinced, however, that in a certain magic and fateful way Lolita began with Annabel.
I also know that the shock of Annabel’s death consolidated the frustration of that nightmare summer, made of it a permanent obstacle to any further romance throughout the cold years of my youth. The spiritual and the physical had been blended in us with a perfection that must remain incomprehensible to the matter-of-fact, crude,standard-brained youngsters of today. Long after her death I felt her thoughts floating through mine. Long before we met we had had the same dreams. We compared notes. We found strange affinities. The same June of the same year (1919) a stray canary had fluttered into her house and mine, in two widely separated countries. Oh, Lolita, had you loved me thus!
I have reserved for the conclusion of my “Annabel” phase the account of our unsuccessful first tryst. One night, she managed to deceive the vicious vigilance of her family. In a nervous and slender-leaved mimosa grove at the back of their villa we found a perch on the ruins of a low stone wall. Through the darkness and the tender trees we could see the arabesques of lighted windows which, touched up by the colored inks od sensitive memory, appear to me now like playing cards- presumably because a bridge game was keeping the enemy busy. She trembled and twitched as I kissed the corner of her parted lips and the hot lobe of her ear. A cluster of stars palely glowed above us, between the silhouettes of long thin leaves; that vibrant sky seemed as naked as she was under her light frock. I saw her face in the sky, strangely distinct, as if it emitted a faint radiance of its own. Her legs,her lovely live legs, were not too close together, and when my hand located what it sought, a dreamy and eerie expression, half-pleasure,half-pain, came over those childish features. She sat a little higher than I,and whenever in her solitary ecstasy she was led to kiss me, her head would bend with a sleepy, soft,drooping movement that was almost woeful, and her bare knees caught and compressed my wrist,and slackened again; and her quivering mouth, distorted by the acridity of some mysterious potion, with a sibilant intake of breath came near to my face. She would try to relieve the pain of love by first roughly rubbing her dry lips against mine; then my darling would draw away with a nervous toss of her hair, and then again come darkly near and let me feed on her open mouth, while with a generosity that was ready to offer her everything, my heart, my throat, my entrails,I gave her to hold in her awkward fist the scepter of my passion.
I recall the scent of some kind of toilet powder- I believe she stole it from her mother’s Spanish maid- a sweetish, lowly, musky perfume. It mingled with her own biscuity odor, and my senses were suddenly filled to the brim; a sudden commotion in a nearby bush prevented them from overflowing- and as we drew away from each other, and with aching veins attended to what was probably a prowling cat, there came from the house her mother’s voice calling her, with a rising frantic note- and Dr.Cooper ponderously limped out into the garden. But That mimosa grove-the haze of stars,the tingle,the flame,the honey-dew, and the ache remained with me,and that little girl with her seaside limbs and ardent tongue haunted me ever since- until at last,twenty-four years later, I broke her spell incarnating her in another.
Taken from Lolita,by Vladimir Nabokov,1955
The Reading Life: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.