0
   

Nabokov's Lolita may be plagiarism

 
 
Reply Mon 22 Mar, 2004 02:50 am
Russian writer Vladimir Nabokov has been accused of stealing the novel's theme.

A novella, published in 1916 by Heinz von Eschwege, describes a girl called Lolita who obsesses and then seduces the narrator. The narrator, who is lodging in her house while on holiday, is distraught when the girl dies at the end of the story. Astoundingly similar to Nabokov's book, published in 1956, claims Michael Maar, a literary scholar, in the German newspaper "Frankfurter Allgemeine" (FAZ).

Von Eschwege, who wrote under the name Heinz von Lichberg, became a journalist in the Third Reich, not least for his commentary on national radio of Adolf Hitler's torch-lit procession to the Reichstag after becoming chancellor in 1933.

Yet by this time von Lichberg had already published his 18-page story in which a man, looking for a quiet place for a holiday, travels to Spain and ends up renting a room in Alicante where he soon engages in eye contact with his host's daughter Lolita -- and is enchanted.

"When you read it today and compare it with the [Nabokov] novel, you do get a light feeling of surreality and deja vu," wrote Maar in the Frankfurter Allgemeine.
"The accordance of the stories' cores, the perspective from which they are told and the choice of name are amazing. Unfortunately there is not a logical rule which would tell us when a certain number of coincidences stop being chance."

Yet von Eschwege and Nabokov lived in the same area of Berlin for 15 years, he explained, admitting that it was possible that the Russian might have read the earlier work.

Maar said in his eyes Nabokov's reputation remains undiminished. "What you can see is that the theme itself is nothing. The first novel is not of great artistic merit, but then the master takes the subject and creates a work of art."

In Spiegel-online, the well-reputated German critic Reich-Ranicki was deeply surprised by this. However, he didn't believe that Nabokov really made a plagiarism.

sources: FAZ, Der Spiegel, Daily Telegraph, Vancouver Sun
  • Topic Stats
  • Top Replies
  • Link to this Topic
Type: Discussion • Score: 0 • Views: 2,155 • Replies: 9
No top replies

 
Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Mar, 2004 05:05 am
Walter- Say it isn't so! Sad

Seriously though, the vast majority of stories are told over and over again, but with a new twist. In this case, stories love stories about pedophiliacs are not the usual stuff of literature, so I would suspect that Nabokov might have read the earlier story somewhere, and used it for ispiration.
0 Replies
 
Joe Nation
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Mar, 2004 05:27 am
Yeah, but that would be like saying "West Side Story" was based on Shakespeare's .... oh wait, nevermind.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Mar, 2004 07:03 am
Phoenix32890 wrote:
Walter- Say it isn't so! Sad

Seriously though, the vast majority of stories are told over and over again, but with a new twist. In this case, stories love stories about pedophiliacs are not the usual stuff of literature, so I would suspect that Nabokov might have read the earlier story somewhere, and used it for ispiration.


Same names, same locations/situations?
0 Replies
 
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Mar, 2004 07:50 am
There are lots of examples in literature of writers borrowing key themes and characters from works of the past. How many versions of Homer, Euripides, Terrance and many others have been passed off as original work in the past and other centuries.

A few other examples. A 19th century and then very popular romantic novel of an indian girl in the Jungles of South America (Venezuela), by Hudson titled "Green Mansions" was obviously stolen from an earlier (and far superior)Brasilian epic bu Jose de Alencar, titled "Iracema."

Virtually al of the English adventure writer, H. Ryder Haggard's novels, Eric Brighteyes, Montezuma's daughter, and others were taken directly fron historical source material - the Icelandic Sagas in the first case, and the Autoiograpy of Bernal Diaz (one of Cortez' soldiers) in the second.

Albert Camu's existential novel "The Stranger", which so captivated post WWII readers in Europe was taken from a much earlier (and far superior) Russian novel, first published in the 1830's by Mikhail Lermontov, titled "A Hero of Our Time".
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Mar, 2004 08:01 am
Well, the original 18-page novella by von Eschwege obviously came nowhere near the artistry of Nabokov's novel - seems to be similar to those examples, given by George above.
0 Replies
 
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Mar, 2004 09:49 am
One of my favorites is a very popular song, a signature piece of Peggy Lee , called "Is That All There Is", was take directly from a short story of Thomas Mann, entitled "Dissilusion". Both the story and the song are very good.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Mar, 2004 10:18 am
georgeob1 wrote:
One of my favorites is a very popular song, a signature piece of Peggy Lee , called "Is That All There Is", was take directly from a short story of Thomas Mann, entitled "Dissilusion". Both the story and the song are very good.


The short story "Disillusion" is in the collection "Little Herr Friedemann". ("Der kleine Herr Friedmann"), the first book published by Mann (in 1898.)
0 Replies
 
Acquiunk
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Mar, 2004 10:24 am
Human innovation works by taking preexisting elements analyzing and rearranging them in new ways. It is an accumulative process, nothing is created "de novo" or out of whole cloth. The whole issue of plagiarism is getting a bit out of control. If Nabokov did not copy the text, or the dialogue then the charge is groundless.
0 Replies
 
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Mar, 2004 10:59 am
In the case of the song and the short story the similarity in detail was complete enough, by any reasonable standard, to at least merit a reference to Thomas Mann, however, none was given. The same is true of the other cases I noted above.
0 Replies
 
 

Related Topics

 
  1. Forums
  2. » Nabokov's Lolita may be plagiarism
Copyright © 2022 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.03 seconds on 09/28/2022 at 07:10:20