03 February 2008

Ryanair hot schoolgirl back to school


Well, Woolworths shop girls and Ryanair travelers have certainly heard of the nymphet *now*.

I don't know whether to laugh or cry over the plain pig ignorance that must exist over in Blighty if my countrymen don't even have the totem name for sexual precocity.

You don't have to have read the book - I don't know anyone who has, save for Martin Amis - to know the name to pin on - er - Lolitas. And what about Humbert Humbert? How are they mocking us now, the dirty mac brigade as we peer furtively into the playground or communal swimming pool?

As for Ryanair's back-to-school advert of a hot chick in faux schoolgirl gear, the airline's hated for so many other things I'm surprised anyone's got time to chase 'em for a mediocre snap of a rather lukewarm tottie.

Mentioning Martin prompted me to look up his critique of the novel, and what a pleasure he is to read with his book learning and straight-faced prose:

"Lolita herself is such an anthology piece by now that even non-readers of the novel can close their eyes and see her on the tennis court or in the swimming pool or curled up in the car seat or the motel twin bed with her 'ridiculous' comics. We tend to forget that this blinding creation remains just that: a creation, and a creation of Humbert Humbert's. We have only Humbert's word for her. And whatever it is that is wrong with Humbert, not even his short-lived mother would claim that her son was playing with a full deck.

(Actually his personal pack may comprise the full fifty-two, but it is crammed with jokers and wild cards, pipless deuces, three-eyed queens.)

A reliable narrator in the strict sense, Humbert is not otherwise reliable; and let us remember that Nabokov was capable of writing entire fictions - Despair, The Eye, Pale Fire - in which the narrators have no idea what is going on at all.

Lolita, I believe, has been partly isolated and distorted by its celebrity. 'The greatest novel of rapture in modern fiction,' states the cover of the first Penguin, which also informs us, on the back, that Humbert is English."

Bravo said, pearly-toothed Martin.

Meanwhile, for vague acquaintance with the Lolita label and sloppiest possible use, look no further than the Torygraph's prurient slavering over a 34-year-old Italian's sexcapade with a 13-year-old girl, his sentence cut because the court sensed "real love" between them. Sapristi! They know how to do things over there.

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