Parodying Lolita. Irony and its roles in the adaptations of Vladimir Nabokov’s masterpiece
Parody seems to be one of the essential steps along the process through which an artwork becomes part of the Western canon. Therefore, the elimination, or the distortion of the so-called “aura” is often a prerequisite to be included within our cultural heritage. Looking at the literary history of the Twentieth century, one can see several examples supporting a comparable hypothesis, but some exceptions remain as well.
Consider, for instance, the adaptations of Lolita, a novel that, since its publication, has been misrepresented in many ways. Nabokov himself – in a well-known “Afterword” (1956) – blames his readers for been distracted by the sexual implications of the plot on the one hand, ignoring the ironic techniques embodied in its refined texture on the other hand.
These remarks are worthy of consideration, though directors such as S. Kubrick and A. Lyne have overlooked, or rather ignored their meaning: the first opted for a classical mise-en-scène in order to neutralize the disturbing potential of the hypotext; the latter emphasized the voyeuristic gaze, trying to seduce the spectator.The aim of my paper is to highlight both the structural and the stylistic issues behind this double “betrayal”, along with its effects on the novel’s aura.
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