It probably won’t surprise you that I don’t like misogynist writers. Some extremely random reasons to my very specific predicament are the way women are presented in the book (sluts, mothers, wives and the remaining few who the ProtagonistDude will like to prong), rampant bigoted views, the page(s) long description of bull-fights, cock-fights (no innuendo intended) — Oh those bull-fights! Hemingway must die for those!– or those lengthy descriptions of what goes on specifically in the dude’s head at all possible times! Even the most dudeliest of dudes seem to be monologue-ing their ‘prong-her-now’ desires at every given minute. What gets to me most is how the writer assumes we’ll have a brain orgasm every time the ProtagonistDude does anything (Norman Mailer anyone?).
This is probably the structure of the most dude-ly books — cough 007 Bond cough — give or take some silicone implants :
- ProtagonistDude is full of Yens to seek adventure. He struggles with his dude-ly feelings. Then conquers them after three chapters.
- ProtagonistDude is convinced adventure is far, far away so he must leave his home and therefore find himself a convenient side-kick (No way is ProtagonistDude carrying his own luggage). He struggles with his dude-ly feelings. Then conquers them after five chapters. Add fist fight to the mix.
- ProtagonistDude meets FairMaiden. He struggles with his dude-ly feelings about her. Add a few mental-sex scenes. He conquers his doubts and prongs her. Graphic description of the said pronging. This goes on for another two chapters.
- FairMaiden is in distress. ProtagonistDude struggles with dude-ly feelings. Long monologue. Decides he shall “man” up and save her.
- ProtagonistDude fights the villain, saves the world from an ecological disaster and then goes back to FairMaiden for eternal pronging.
Now, I know though I embellished a little, dear BLOG! reading person you know this is the sad formula that most DudeBroLit demands. Maybe I even missed tackling the UFO, but I’m sure you understand me.
For years I thought 007 Bond novels, Henry Miller, Norman Mailer, Jack Kerouac and Charles Bukowski where the HeraldingDudes of DudeBroLit. Just yesterday, a rather annoying man-person brought to my notice Vladimir Nabokov is also a regular dude of this echo chamber of “hi-fiving dudes”. Who knew? Certainly not this silly LadyBrain! When I asked the annoying man-person — let’s call him MansplainingDouche for future reference — just why would he categorize an author who wrote a ‘cruel book about cruelty’ without managing to slip even a bit of his own opinions into the page, MansplainingDouche replied, “Dude. The book is about an old horndog who gets laid by a 12 year-old sex-bomb! What’s not to like? Also, she’s HOT!!!”. I really have seen it all.
Could you blame me for what happened next? I sat MansplainingDouche down to explain just what was Lolita about. I don’t see Lolita as a book reveling in sexual perversions of the TrulyDeranged (If you think in Humbert Humbert’s favour; leave NOW) but as the silencing of a little girl’s LadyBrain. Humbert takes everything away from her, even bestowing her with a new name (see : Basic Course In Silencing, Chapter 1-55). We only see her through his eyes. He tells us about how she seduces him, how cruel she is, how she loved to play games, comply to his whims, perform all sexual favours with coy control. An example from the novel —I recall certain moments, let us call them icebergs in paradise, when after having had my fill of her — after fabulous, insane exertions that left me limp and azure-barred — I would gather her in my arms with, at last, a mute moan of human tenderness (her skin glistening in the neon light coming from the paved court through the slits in the blind, her soot-black lashes matted, her grave gray eyes more vacant than ever — for all the world a little patient still in the confusion of a drug after a major operation) — the tenderness would deepen to shame and despair, and I would lull and rock my lone light Lolita in my marble arms, and moan in her warm hair, and caress her at random and mutely ask her blessing, and at the peak of this human agonized selfless tenderness (with my soul actually hanging around her naked body and ready to repent), all at once, ironically, horribly, lust would swell again — and “oh, no,” Lolita would say with a sigh to heaven, and the next moment the tenderness and the azure — all would be shattered.
As readers, we may even identify with Humbert’s frustration; much to our horror. Lolita to us is all that he makes her to be. Even in the middle of complete misogynist silencing, we do get a glimpse of what Dolores might have been had Humbert Humbert hadn’t victimised her. “The child whimpered in the bidet“, Nabokov wrote after one session of forced, coaxed session of coitus between “Lo” and Humbert. One sentence entirely changed our whole perspective. That’s the result of Nabokov’s magic. He makes this sad tale of exploitation and silencing a gracefully humane tragicomedy.
Imagine Woody Allen or Jay Leno writing Lolita. It’s quite possible that the line, “I pronged her so hard that night” would feature every two pages. A part of your brain melted away, didn’t it?
As I explained all of this to the MansplainingDouche, he just stared at me. After a sufficiently long Dude-ly pause, he said, “She’s still HOT right?”. I truly have seen it all.
P. S : This post is still dedicated to my SuperAwesomeFriend who loves Lolita too. Leave her smiles and jokes in the comments. She needs it. Like about three weeks ago.