I had a lightbulb moment of "Ah!" while reading Lolita, and found that Humbert Humbert asked us to imagine him, much the way Nafisi asked us to imagine them. This got me thinking about why the narrator of the books would ask such a thing of its reader.
I don't know about you, but whenever I read, I automatically imagine the settings, characters, everything down to the smells and noises. So when the narrator asks me to imagine I say to them "I already have imagined you!"
So why do they directly ask the reader to "imagine." Do they ask for those readers that do not imagine? Are they asking it of everyone, regardless of their imagination? Or are they asking those readers (who like myself) are already in the full bloom of imagination?
I've pondered the answers to all this lovely questions, and I continue to lean towards the last question as the audience the narrator was speaking to. Nabokov (as we have all come to learn) was for 'Good Readers.' So a person with no imagination and people as a generality can all learn the art of 'good readership.' They all share the possiblity of being shaped into 'good little readers.' But those with a blooming imagination already have preconceived notions-- yes yes, they may be more open towards art and all the forms it can shrink and expand, but their ability to automatically enter into another world, limits them as readers. We (imaginers) go into a novel armed with our cabinets full of colors, shapes, voices, smells, feelings (touch - not emotional), etc. We solve the visual puzzle with each page turn. We solve OUR personal visual puzzle of the novel. We do not let the characters speak and present themselves. And that, (in this pieced together post) is one of the main reasons I think Nafisi, Nabokov, and everyother author/narrator-asks, demands, pleads, and begs for us to "IMAGINE them." Imagine them not as they may be, but Imagine them as they ARE.
One last, and random thought about Lolita. While reading it, I snorted out loud at Humbert's line "She tabooed my pin." [In fact, this might be the moment I realized I'll forever be a Nabokov fan]
This is written when Charolette Haze has read H.H.'s journal and he is going to calm her with a drink.
1) Pin in the quote is a play on the word Pen. H.H.'s journal was nothing, it meant absolutely nothing when it was just H.H. and the black bound journal. But, once its subject matter had been previewed by another's eyes, the thoughts contained in it were up for scrutiny. And seeing how the subject matter was his Love for a 12yr old girl- a Love that society was against- it made this Love and these feelings societially taboo. So....Mama Haze, 'tabooed his pi(e)n' by reading it.
2) Pin (we later find out) is the name H.H. has given to his choice drink- pineapple juice and gin. When he is fixing C.Haze a drink, he makes Whiskey and Soda. However he makes the same drink for himself (whiskey and soda), thus hinting to the fact that thru her anger and outrage, C.Haze had 'tabooed [his] pin' as it would not be appropriate to drink a drink that is a defined character trait in H.H.