CommentnIn July 1977, Vladimir Nabokov died. He was an Americannwriter whose magnitude, intellectual and literary, grew fromnhis heritage of European civilization. A progeny of Russia’snupper-class intelligentsia—a stratum specific to Eastern Europen—he coalesced the best of the cultural traditions that Francenand England, Russia and Germany have in common.nBefore he moves into the history of literature, we, at thenChronicles of Culture, would like to cast a glance at his—andnhis work’s—presence in our lifetime.nE I ver since I first read Lolita, close to two decades ago, Inhave felt that everything written about that book has missednthe point. From the beginning I kept running into misunderstandingsnon the part of its commentators. To my mind, as itnread in 1958 and reads now, the novel does not require annapology for its moral stance. Even if one considers it from thenstandpointof rigorous behavioral standards, it can hold itsnown. I would risk saying that especially now, when crassnessnsubmerges and encroaches on basic sensibilities, Lolita comesnacross as one of those classics that makes the invisible reportable—innkeeping with Conrad’s literary credo. It is, in fact, ansuperb case for sensitivities, for self-consciousness tormentednby mortification, for the belief that the mere effort to controlnnature and impulse may turn into a precious value. I havenalways seen Lolita as a lament for discarded norms. TodaynLolita more than ever sounds like a cry in the midst of the uglynwilderness of pornographic subscription offerings at reducednrates.nThe popular suffrage will always associate Nabokov’s namenwith the title Lolita for rather sensationalist reasons. In mynopinion, it is a traditional novel. The agonies of improprietynconstitute one of the oldest traditions of Western humanismnand literature. Nabokov does not transgress the rules. As havenmany before him—from Abelard to Goethe to Faulkner—henasserts that man can get lost in the jungle of sexual feelings,nbut the humble recognition of his feelings determines hisnhumanness. At the time it was published, Lolita was readnlargely as a manifesto of sincerity. Twenty years later, it hasnacquired a different dimension, probably the one whichnNabokov had in his mind at the time of the novel’s conception.nCast against the America of the “sexdomes,” that is brothelsnoperating with a pretended sociological justification undernnames like Plato’s Retreat, Lolita comes into focus as a novelnof redemption through shame. Even if not very much isnsalvaged, the moral norm miraculously emerges from it bothnintact and alluring. Today, when animalism is sold as a progressivenlifestyle (an insult to animals, of course, as no creaturenexcept the New York pornographic entrepreneur equatesndegradation with pleasure), the vicissitudes of HumbertnHumbert reveal shamefulness as a precious option of existencento which a person should aspire for deliverance.nThus, when musing on Nabokov, we face an awkwardnChronicles of Culturensyllogism: shame as an effect of psycho-sexual quandaries isnsupposed to be a banal, useless, regressive, unhealthy, evennreactionary feeling; Nabokov saw an element of salvation innit; was he therefore a conservative, or even a reactionary?nOf course, he was. This is acknowledged even by the liberalncritics, albeit all they have in mind is his conservative politics.nWhat they rabidly deny, however is the conservative quality ofnhis creation, the gist of his writing which is firmly contrary tonthe tenets of the liberal ideal and the liberal dogma. Readingnwhat has been written about Nabokov’s work since the successnof Lolita, one has the uneasy sensation that a sort of conspiracynis operating to obfuscate the obvious, to render the literarynintention reversible and turn topsy-turvy a clearly wordednmoral allegiance. The technique of viewing a master and hisnwork from exactly the opposite corner he himself would havenpreferred to be viewed is a hoary one. Homer, Socrates, Plato,nDante, Milton, Defoe and Balzac have all suffered the samentreatment. Today’s liberal, so-called progressive, interpretersnrefuse to notice how clearly and unequivocally these mastersnformulated their loyalty to inherited truths, traditions andnwisdom, to the continuity and permanence of values, to man’sntimeless duties and to the profound conviction that both humannknowledge and fate transcend such feeble notions as societynand progress. But the liberals, socialists and progressives havenstructured an edifice of idolatry on precisely these two notions,nand this is why they must falsify great philosophy and greatnliterature in the treatises with which they deluge today’s culture,nand in the textbooks with which they inundate the universities.nTo perpetuate the current ideological inanities, the entire truthnabout a Nabokov cannot be said.nThis is why we attempt the reevaluation of Nabokov andnhis literature in the pages of Chronicles of Culture.nAmong those who were forced by circumstance to celebratenthe substance of the culture they were born into by means of anlanguage other than their own, Nabokov stands as an equal ofnJoseph Conrad. For Samuel Beckett and Eugene lonesconcreative work in a foreign language was a matter of technologynof expression, not a reorientation toward another source ofnlife and nourishment. “You have to be foreign to write Englishnwith that kind of hypnotized brilliance—” someone said aboutnthis kind of expatriate writing, and the paradox fits Nabokovnperfectly. His demise without the Nobel prize is one of thenpetty errors of the Western cultural hierarchy. He will benmore appreciated as time goes on. We, at the Chronicles ofnCulture, believe that our civilizational mechanism is selfcorrective.nVnnnoices are reaching us that express a wish to know morenT Oilnabout our literary and methodological modus operandi. Letnus, therefore, state what we see as our way of approachingncultural criticism. We depart from an assumption that culture—nthat is, the cultivation of ideas, arts and modes of existence—hasn