Why does Nabokov devote an entire chapter (however short) to Gaston Godin?
He is, in many ways, H.H.’s foil: not the dark, handsome, dashing European, but the ugly, unbathed sort, and rather than shunning his neighbors Gaston charms them. He’s bad at chess, his English is worse. He skims over details and barely notices Lolita at all, even mistaking her for one of many daughters.
But G.G. [Even the initials are a kind of mirror - a false scent, Appel notes, to trap “the reader who believes the psychiatric diagnosis of H.H. on p. 32 (‘potentially homosexual’). Several Freudians of my acquaintance do interpret nymphets as substitute boys.”], like H.H., always wears black. He, too, embodies the novel’s central themes: a European “contemptuous of the American way of life,” a man “crooned over by the older and caressed by the young.” He, too, has a very taboo sexuality: he’s gay. Oh, gay Gaston! I hope Nabokov did not intend to equate homosexuality with pedophilia, but that was the prevailing attitude of 1950s America.
I would have hardly alluded to him at all had not his Beardsley existence had such a queer bearing on my case. I need him for my defense.
Of course - Nabokov brings it back home with this reference to H.H.’s little predicament. It is Gaston who defended him at Beardsley, but cannot come to his aid now.
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