Vladimir Nabokov & Pynchon Connection


Greg 1979 & Wife at their Wedding

Greg 1979 Rosemary 2scan0114




suely3“For years, Pynchon trackers have wondered about Tharaldsen, listed as married to Pynchon in a 1966–67 alumni directory. The real story is not of a secret marriage but a distressing divorce—hers from Seidler.”

It appears Thomas Pynchon is in my Family Tree, as is Dame Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor who may have been jealous of Sue Lyon who played Lolita, who is running around half-naked in front of Richard Burton on the set of ‘The Night of the Iguana’. Sue Lyon was best friends of Patty Presco, the ex-wife of my brother. Mark Presco, who drove Sue Lyon to Santa Monica City College five days a week in his GTO Mustang that he bought from his wages earned by helping put men in space V-ia rockets. Mark was Mary Ann Tharaldsen’s brother-in-law, and the famous artist ‘Rosamond’ was her sister-in-law.

Rosamond took up art after seeing my painting of Rena Easton, who walked about California half-naked. She was seventeen, a real nymph I drove around in my 1950 Dodge.

My brother held our wedding reception at his house, and took the photos of Mary Ann and I. His eyes fell upon Sue Lyon for a semester. Stanley Kubrick worked with Vladimir on the Lolita script. Above is a letter from Vladimir to Kubrick. Did the Vlad have anything to do with casting Sue Lyon? Was he hidden behind two way mirror – with Paynchon during audition?

I am now running The Most Outrageous Pynchon Guess Contest. Send me you entries.

In the article in the New York magazine Boris (and Vlad) says Pynchon encouraged folks to keep on guessing about who he is, and what he is all about. My guess is, Thomas was an avid fan of the BBC series Connections, and might own this series on video tape. Anyone who has read a biography of a famous artist or musician, has read a book about Connections. With the addition of Pynchon in my family tree, so grows the Creative People therein. The relationship between Thomas and Mel Lyman, is amusing. As is the relation to Sir Richard Burton, the man who could not get enough attention, and the man who did not want any! I see a play on par with Waiting For Gadot.

If Rena had married me she would be kin to Taylor and Burton. At twenty-five, Rena married Sir Ian Easton, aged sixty one. Ian was an Admiral who was awarded a KCB. The lived on the Isle of Wight where British Admirals go to die. To make a picture of the old Admiral and his beautiful Water Nymph getting out of a Bentley to attend a ball, is Lolitish. Rena, the Mermaid of Wight, is the catch of the season. Ian made many old Admirals – jealous! Then there is the swimming pool at the club. There are smoking jackets. There is a book here.

Above is a photo of Rena that was taken by her lover in the woods. She was seventeen and totally naked. This photo appeared on a poster advertising an event held by the University of Nebraska. It was posted everywhere! There are real egg-head writers, and, there are real-life nymphs!

Vladamer was living in Oregon when he wrote Lolita. He went on a drive looking for butterflies. Did he come upon a loving couple that were a generation apart? Were they in a resturant, and after eating, he watched them drive away.

The average male has sex-thoughts every twenty seconds. In my novel ‘Capturing Beauty’ my big complaint was, that when Rena and I were in public, I saw nothing but powerful sex-thoughts firing away the second they lay eyes on her. These males captured Rena via the lenses in the eyes, and took her to their dungeon, or, some shady Motel out on the highway.

Nabokov believed he captured the unsung heart of America, the love of young maidens, and the automobile. We American love go out on the road – and have sex! Having casual visual sex with pretty young things, is par for the course.

Rena would not let me in the water with her, because she was having visual-sex with her admirers, her audience. Sue Lyon got in hot water over the image of her coming out of the water with an older man, my kindred Richard Burton.

Lolita – is a Muse? She is a Road Nymph in that Nymphs are associated with locality.

Here are more famous folks Thomas Pynchon is kin to….


Jon Presco

Copyright 2013

“The idea that rivers are gods and springs divine nymphs is deeply rooted not only in poetry but in belief and ritual; the worship of these deities is limited only by the fact that they are inseparably identified with a specific locality.”

“There he finished Lolita and began writing the novel Pnin. He roamed the nearby mountains looking for butterflies, and wrote a poem called Lines Written in Oregon. On 1 October 1953, he and his family returned to Ithaca, New York, where he would later teach the young writer Thomas Pynchon.[11]

September 63
tells columnist Mike Connolly that the talk about her trying to break up Burton’s romance with Liz Taylor is ridiculous. “Why should I when I’ve got my own guy, Hampton Fancher?”

What finally smoked him out was Richard Fariña’s wedding to Mimi Baez, sister of the famous folk singer. In August, Pynchon took a bus up the California coast to serve as his friend’s best man. Remembering the visit soon after, Fariña portrayed Pynchon with his head buried in Scientific American before eventually “coming to life with the tacos.” Pynchon later wrote to Mimi that Fariña teased him about his “anti-photograph Thing … what’s the matter, you afraid people are going to stick pins; pour aqua regia? So how could I tell him yeah, yeah right, you got it.”

After Fariña’s wedding, Pynchon went up to Berkeley, where he met up with Tharaldsen and Seidler. For years, Pynchon trackers have wondered about Tharaldsen, listed as married to Pynchon in a 1966–67 alumni directory. The real story is not of a secret marriage but a distressing divorce—hers from Seidler. Pynchon and Tharaldsen quickly fell in love, and when Pynchon went back to Mexico City shortly after John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Tharaldsen soon followed.

In Mexico, Tharaldsen says, Pynchon wrote all night, slept all day, and kept mostly to himself. When he didn’t write, he read—mainly Latin American writers like Jorge Luis Borges, a big influence on his second novel, The Crying of Lot 49. (He also translated Julio Cortázar’s short story “Axolotl.”) His odd writing habits persisted throughout his life; later, when he was in the throes of a chapter, he’d live off junk food (and sometimes pot). He’d cover the windows with black sheets, never answer the door, and avoid anything that smelled of obligation. He often worked on multiple books at once—three or four in the mid-sixties—and a friend remembers him bringing up the subject of 1997’s Mason & Dixon in 1970.

Tharaldsen grew bored of the routine. Soon they moved to Houston, then to Manhattan Beach. Tharaldsen, a painter, did a portrait of Pynchon with a pig on his shoulder, referencing a pig figurine he’d always carry in his pocket, talking to it on the street or at the movies. (He still identified closely with the animals, collecting swine paraphernalia and even signing a note to friends with a drawing of a pig.) Once Tharaldsen painted a man with massive teeth devouring a burger, which she titled Bottomless, Unfillable Nothingness. Pynchon thought it was him, and hated it. Tharaldsen insists it wasn’t, but their friend Mary Beal isn’t so sure. “I know she regarded him as devouring people. I think in the sense that he—well, I shouldn’t say this, because all writers do it. Writers use people.”

Tharaldsen hated L.A., and decided to go back to school in Berkeley. “I thought they were unserious sort of beach people—lazy bums! But Tom didn’t care because he was inside all day and writing all night.” At the moment, eager to break with his publisher, Lippincott (and rejoin Cork Smith, since departed to Viking), he saw Lot 49 as a quickie “potboiler” meant to break his option with the house—forcing them to either reject it, liberating him, or pay him $10,000. They paid him, defying his own low opinion of it. In his introduction to Slow Learner, a later collection of his early stories, he’d write that with Lot 49, “I seem to have forgotten most of what I thought I’d learned up till then.” Now it’s required reading in college courses, a gateway drug to the serious stuff. Which, of course, was his next book: Gravity’s Rainbow.

Suellyn Lyon was born on July 10, 1946 in Davenport, Iowa. When she was 14 years old, she was cast in the role of Dolores “Lolita” Haze, the sexually charged adolescent and the object of an older man’s obsessions in Stanley Kubrick’s 1962 film Lolita.[2] She was chosen for the role partly because her curvy figure suggested that of an older adolescent. Based on the Vladimir Nabokov Lolita, Kubrick’s film, though a toned-down version of the book—Lolita is only 12 at the beginning of the novel and 17 at the end—was nonetheless one of the most controversial films of its day.
Lyon was 16 when the film premiered in September 1962.[3] She became an instant celebrity and won a Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer – Female. Despite her inexperience, she was praised for holding her own in scenes with the three top-billed stars of the film, James Mason, Shelley Winters, and Peter Sellers. Lyon recorded two songs for the film, which were released on an MGM 45 rpm record. The song “Lolita Ya Ya” (Riddle–Harris) appeared on side A, and “Turn Off the Moon” (Stillman-Harris) appeared on side B.
In 1963, Lyon was again cast as a seductive teen in John Huston’s The Night of the Iguana (1964), competing for the affections of Richard Burton’s defrocked preacher against the likes of Deborah Kerr and Ava Gardner. Again, controversy surrounded her because of a provocative scene in the film in which Lyon is shown emerging from the water.

In 1965, she played a mission worker in China in director John Ford’s last feature film, 7 Women. Lyon played the female lead in the 1967 comedy The Flim-Flam Man and had a supporting role in 1967’s Tony Rome which starred Frank Sinatra. She played the wife of daredevil Evel Knievel in the 1971 film Evel Knievel.[4]
By the 1970s, she was relegated to mainly secondary roles. She continued to work in film and television until 1986.



Nabokov wrote Lolita while travelling on butterfly-collection trips in the western United States that he undertook every summer. Véra acted as “secretary, typist, editor, proofreader, translator and bibliographer; his agent, business manager, legal counsel and chauffeur; his research assistant, teaching assistant and professorial understudy”; when Nabokov attempted to burn unfinished drafts of Lolita, it was Véra who stopped him. He called her the best-humoured woman he had ever known.[4][10]

In June 1953 Nabokov and his family went to Ashland, Oregon, renting a house on Meade Street from Professor Taylor, head of the Southern Oregon College Department of Social Science.[citation needed] There he finished Lolita and began writing the novel Pnin. He roamed the nearby mountains looking for butterflies, and wrote a poem called Lines Written in Oregon. On 1 October 1953, he and his family returned to Ithaca, New York, where he would later teach the young writer Thomas Pynchon.[11]

Even before the novel found an American publisher and became a bestseller in 1958, Kubrick (then a little-known director) and producing partner James Harris bought the film rights for $150,000.

Actually, Nabokov was a bit too zealous a custodian; his original screenplay ran 400 pages and would have resulted in a seven-hour film (he eventually published it in 1974 as “Lolita: A Screenplay”). Kubrick and Harris would have to rework it and throw out all but about 20 percent of Nabokov’s work (he still received sole credit).

Two of Pynchon’s Cornell friends, his future girlfriend Tharaldsen and her then-husband, David ­Seidler, had moved to Seattle and encouraged Pynchon to join them. Tharaldsen says Pynchon arrived “depressed—very down.” She worked for Boeing, and hooked him up with a job writing technical copy for their in-house guide, Bomarc Service News. The aerospace giant was just then developing the Minuteman, a nuclear-capable missile that likely inspired Pynchon, years later, to cast Germany’s World War II–era V-2 rocket as the screaming menace of Gravity’s Rainbow. (One of the joys of tracking Pynchon is tracing the far-flung interconnections in his work to unlikely real-world experiences—dating an NSA worker; seeing Charles de Gaulle in Mexico; fooling around on a primitive music synthesizer in 1972.)

Some of it is true,” Pynchon wrote of the story, “but none of the interesting parts. Keep trying.”


September 63
tells columnist Mike Connolly that the talk about her trying to break up Burton’s romance with Liz Taylor is ridiculous. “Why should I when I’ve got my own guy, Hampton Fancher?”

columnist Kilgallen knows: “Producer James Harris, who has been her most ardent suitor since the Lolita days, still has hopes of recapturing her affections, and is talking of renting a house in Mexico while Sue is in Puerta Vallarte for Night of the Iguana.
October 63
columnist Bob Thomas reports that Richard Burton is “very careful to avoid rumors about Sue Lyon”
3 December 63
while on location in Puerto Vallarte, she decides to marry Fancher
Mid-December 63
Connolly says that she and Fancher sent the first wedding invitation to Joanne Fancher, Fancher’s just-divorced-in Mexico ex, “and she has accepted”


Esmeralda! Now we rest
Here, in the bewitched and blest
Mountain forest of the West.

Here the very air is stranger.
Damzel, anchoret, and ranger
Share the woodland’s dream and danger.

And to think I deemed you dead!
(In a dungeon, it was said;
Tortured, strangled); but instead –

Blue birds from the bluest fable,
Bear and hare in coats of sable,
Peacock moth on picnic table.

Huddled road-signs softly speak
Of Lake Merlin, Castle Creek,
And (obliterated) Peak.

Do you recognize that clover?
Dandelions, l’or du pauvre?
(Europe, nonetheless, is over).

Up the turf, along the burn,
Latin lilies climb and turn
Into Gothic fir and fern.

Cornfields have befouled the prairies
But these canyon’s laugh! And there is
Still the forest with its fairies.

And I rest where I awoke
In the sea shade – l’ombre glauque –
Of a legendary oak.

Where the woods get ever dimmer,
Where the Phantom Orchids glimmer –
Esmeralda, immer, immer.



To think that any fool may tear
by chance the web of when and where.
O window in the dark! To think
that every brain is on the brink
of nameless bliss no brain can bear,

unless there be no great surprise –
as when you learn to levitate
and, hardly trying, realize –
alone, in bright room – that weight
is but your shadow, and you rise.

My little daughter wakes in tears.
She fancies that her bed is drawn
into a dimness which appears
to be the deep of all her fears
but which, in point of fact, is dawn.

I know a poet who can strip
a William Tell or Golden Pip
in one uninterrupted peel
miraculously to reveal,
revolving on his fingertip,

a snowball. So I would unrobe,
turn inside out, pry open, probe
all matter, everything you see,
the skyline and its saddest tree,
the whole inexplicable globe,

to find the true, the ardent core
as doctors of old pictures do
when, rubbing out a distant door
or sooty curtain, they restore
the jewel of a bluish view.


Vladimir Nabokov

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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