Nabokov’s Lolita, Humberts obsession Early reflections on Lolita conducted both by its admirers and detractors constituted the perfect mixture for revolutionary novel with praise for Nabokovs literary achievement and condemnation for its highbrow pornography. From the critical point of view, due to its immediate and continuous controversy, the majority of audience has encountered the novel with some preconception about its obscene content. Employing an image of his narrator, Nabokov introduced readers into the world where fundamental social taboos and criminal laws are violated by individuals obsession resulted in a desperate honesty, confession and moral leprosy. Being introduced by Nabokov to participate in strange cross-country tour of Humbert, the readers face the environment where everything is allowed, in particular at the moment when they realize that the narrators obsession is a diminutive four feet ten, school-aged girl-child. In this environment notably marked by severe initial crimes and admissions, Humberts less severe sins, his everyday bad manners are perceived as more humorous than damning while he comments on the perfunctory faults of people around him, using ridiculously wrong verbs, and dismisses one turgid dentist with these words: On second thoughts, I shall have it all done by Dr. Molnar. His price is higher, but he is of course a much better dentist than you.
I do not know if any of my readers will ever have a chance to say that. It is a delicious dream feeling (Nabokov, 291).
... across her big toe. Throughout Lolita, Humbert rationalizes his obsession to the reader. The reader might make the mistake of thinking that ... be a healthy man. Nabokov has also made use of humour to emphasise Humberts delusions and obsession. Again, this also presents ... that begs for the readers sympathy. Nabokov skilfully manipulates the reader into feeling sympathy for both Humbert and the object of ...
Humbert emphasizes this disrespect for taboos and the tolerance in social interaction with an abuse of poetic license, the redundant prose that finally transformed into his outlaw status: You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style (9).
Practically, he explains his literary violance with excuses, namely his psychological instability, Lolitas irresistibility, and the relativity of tastes and traditions. With Lolita he becomes lost in an artists dream as he tries to fix her unadulterated form in words and, while touring the American landscape, to call up the delicate beauty ever present in the margin (Nabokov, 152).
After thousands of miles of cross-country travel made to prolong his time with Lolita, Humbert utilizes every rhetorical strategy available to prevent his storys inevitable end and thus, avoid any final judgments. He constructs an extremely tangled narrative misdirecting any readers desire for closure. However, being different from Humberts story, Nabokovs novel involves continuous thinking of the nature of endings, foregrounding numerous contradictions between the points supported in its afterword and foreword, in particular between desire and meaning, revel and revelation, reading and rereading.
Having introduced his mother into the background of his childhood, Humbert immediately dismisses her by recounting her sudden death with one abrupt notion: picnic, lightning (Nabokov, 10).
She becomes the notable feature of the women in his life, all of whom enter the story in the shadow of their eventual deaths, including Lolitas appearance and her foreshadowed life. The order of events is reversed in Humberts fantasy world and his contempt for psychotherapy arises through the introduction of a space when he argues that Lolitas previous sexual experimentation exonerates him of his crimes: I am not a criminal sexual psychopath taking indecent liberties with a child. The rapist was Charlie Holmes. I am the therapist – a matter of nice spacing in the way of distinction (Nabokov, 150).
Practically, Humbert has fantasized about and plotted just what he denies, and the space merely is utilized to clarify the connection between the two words. Humberts expressions of love persuade many, not only because they hint at redemption but also because the language itself is enchanting. The novel returns repeatedly to its middle, as Humbert redevelops his previous journey while searching for Lolita.
Humbert Humbert Humbert Humbert in the book Lolita is the type of person who will do anything to satisfy his needs. When Humbert is institutionalized in an insane asylum he toys with the doctors. Once he got to a certain age Humbert felt like he needed to get married to suppress his sexual desires, so he did. Later on Humbert realizes the only way he can be with Lolita is by marrying her mother, ...
It also assits in creating a desire for that middle, one that counterbalances its onrushing narrative. Humberts pleasure in the process of arising Lolita is evident from the famous first words of his narrative, from his incantation evidencing to her capacity to enchant. He blackmails Lolita, forcing her to remain with him, both in order to satisfy his sexual desire and to serve as a kidnapped poetic muse accomplishing another ancient lust in an intangible island of entranced time where Lolita plays with her likes (Nabokov, 17).
Let them play around me forever. Never grow up (Nabokov, 21).
Because Humbert fondled Lolitas precursor, Annabel Leigh, on an immortal day that opens a rift in his life, she is still alive, according to Humberts initially self-satisfying hopeless logic. According to Humbert, the intervening 25 years tapered to a palpitating point, and vanished after his first glimpse of Lolita. Humbert starts his narrative by envisioning years of reality, by omitting the unpleasant middle with Valeria and Taxovich in order to save the idyllic poles represented by his two nymphets. Of course, in his more transparent moments, Humbert realizes that Lolitas life will certainly follow the natural timeline: the nymphets life span is constrained by the age limits of nine and fourteen (Nabokov, 16).
He admits it when he writes, I knew I had fallen in love with Lolita forever; but I also knew she would not be forever Lolita (Nabokov, 65).
Humberts everyday life is dedicated to prolonging his exposure to Lolita and to keeping his narrative alive.
When plotting a way to eliminate the threatening presence of Charlotte Haze, Humbert estimates briefly the blunt instrument of blackmail and decides against it after imagining the consequences of failure: If I said Either I have my way with Lolita, and you help me to keep the matter quiet, or we part at once, she would have turned as pale as a woman of clouded glass and slowly replied: All right, whatever you add or retract, this is the end. And the end it would be (Nabokov, 84).
Directions: Imagine yourself as one of the children in the liberation photograph. Complete the three paragraphs as a first-person narrative from his or her point of view. Paragraph 1: Why were you persecuted? Paragraph 2: Where did you go? Describe your experience at the camp. What happened to your family? How did the United States respond to your experience? Paragraph 3: What will your future ...
In envisioning his life with Lolita, all ends are repulsive, and Humberts narrative develops into various efforts varying from sleeping pills to incapacitate the entire Haze household, a marriage to Charlotte Haze to grant him unlimited access as stepfather, and even to a painstaking murder plot against his wife. Down to his sentence structure, to his inclination to periodic and rambling sentences, Humberts style reflects his dislike to ends. Describing a trip into town, he narrates in a crescendo toward a sudden and unwanted conclusion: The wings of the drivers Marlenesque nose shone, having shed or burned up their ration of powder, and she kept up an elegant monologue anent the local traffic, and smiled in profile, and pouted in profile, and beat her painted lashes in profile, while I prayed we would never get to that store, but we did (Nabokov, 51).
During his first sexual acquaintance with Lolita Humbert depicts the act in terms that places parallels between its insecure balance and the strategies of his narrative: Suspended on the brink of that voluptuous abyss (a nicety of physiological equipoise comparable to certain techniques in the arts) I kept repeating chance words after her (Nabokov, 60).
Among those techniques are his own intentions at fixing Lolita through the chance words of his confession, and creating in his narrative a fantasy world similar to the Hollywood musicals.
Like existing reality of musicals, his ideal realm constitutes an essentially grief-proof sphere of existence wherefrom death and truth were banned and where technically deathless fathers admire lovingly the success of their aspiring actress daughters. This Hollywood creation, like Humberts, is a self-contained world, revealing whenever possible its own substituted reality. Humberts solitary solipsism aims at near-complete isolation, and the world beyond his secluded existence is always opposed as a threat, as the invasion of an appearing end into incertain story of his time with Lolita. On the night when they first share the same bed, their hotel room is a hall of mirrors, with seemingly every inch of wall space designed to reflect back on the occupant, reduplicating the self-imposed limitations of his vision. Humberts main source of anxiety is the realization that Lolita constitutes an identity outside his self-contained realm, and in his memoirs he searches for a channel to enforce her isolation while allowing her singular moves to survive. A minimal figure – half English and half Swiss, a European living in America – Humbert hopes to bridge his timeless, egocentric world and the aging, everyday, suburban life constantly exceeding his attempts at restriction. However, in moments of despair he realizes the difficulty, even impossibility of such an outcome because he is a prisoner not only of his solipsism but also of his own story, which reflects its author as accurately as its obvious subject.
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov Vladimir Nabokovs Lolita is considered now to be one of American literatures masterpieces, even though the explicit sexual nature of this novel resulted in public controversy. Basically, Lolita is the apology of a pedophile. Contemporary critics suggest that it is impossible to figure out what the author was trying to tell us in this novel, as it is completely deprived ...
The more he concentrates on the great pains he took to speak Los tongue, the more involved in his own fiction he becomes. In Humberts story, objects gleamed in passing, and photographs in particular, provide a welcome picture for the narrative; but they also depict a fragmented record of loss and reflect Humberts willful escape from the partial narratives shown on their surfaces. In his daily interactions Humbert renames people and reduces them to caricatures; however, due to his ultimate desire to preserve Lolitas inconstant peculiarity, a photographic image remains to insufficient method. Thus, he has burned his photographs of Lolita and elegies that remembered images but an immobilized fraction of her, a cinematographic still (Nabokov, 44).
Humberts ironically failed experiment in depicting verbal snapshots, his attempt to capture the imperative glint of images, characterizes the ultimately unrealizable goal of his narrative. He writes: I have to put the impact of an instantaneous vision into a sequence of words; their physical accumulation in the page impairs the actual flash, the sharp units of impression: Rug-heap, car, old man-doll….(Nabokov, 97).
Photographs in Lolita often carry the deathly weight. Early in the novel Humbert dreams on now-lost picture, made on the last day of our fatal summer, depicting himself with Annabel Leigh, the idealized childhood love who died just four months after striking her pose. He confronts the photographs future while getting a haircut, when again in his rambling sentences, he writes of the barber: he babbled of a baseball-playing son of his, and, at every explodent, spat into my neck, and every now and then wiped his glasses on my sheet-wrap, or interrupted his tremulous scissor work to produce faded newspaper clippings, and so inattentive was I that it came as a shock to realize as he pointed to an easeled photograph among the ancient gray lotions, that the mustached young ball player had been dead for the last thirty years (Nabokov, 213).
'Lolita' and Censorship The twentieth century's two most infamous literary censorship cases - 'Lady Chatterley's Lover' and 'Ulysses' were brought to trial ostensibly because of fears about the public's exposure to obscene material. There were undoubtedly a number of other tacit reasons for prosecution bound up in the social, sexual and political economies of the early twentieth century. ...
Because the photograph constitutes an inadequate and thus undesirable means of recalling Lolita, Humberts narrative flows through the range of rhetorical strategies for bringing out an absent figure. The nature of his medium, the need for creating images through a string of words in the indefinite time of reading, exposes Humbert with the paradox of his attempt to fix once and for all the perilous magic of nymphets (Nabokov, 134).
Although he tries to preserve Lolitas peculiarities, he also reduces and abstracts them, transforming her into a pattern vacant of that particular magic. Humberts apologia finishes with an apostrophic invocation – in his final address to my Lolita – as he utilizes desperately the most archaic device for diverting narrative and recovering an absent figure.
Culler indicates that apostrophe in poetic speech works against narrative and its accompaniments: sequentially, causality, time, teleological meaning (Culler, 148).
In classical rhetoric, a courtroom apostrophe means an address to someone other than the judge, hence audience of the novel. In poetic conversation it builds a special temporality in which the writer can say now in a timeless present or temporality of writing (Culler, 149).
Humberts multiple deviations from his continuous appeal to the ladies and gentlemen of the jury, his attempts to reincarnate a timeless Lolita through apostrophe, underline the contradictions between his desire and duty: any remembrance of Lolita in the timeless present inevitably results into a Confession marked with explaining her ultimate absence and a novel that refers to the untimely, unalterable nature of that absence. Culler notes that despite its attempt to address another person or object, apostrophe can be interpreted as an act of radical interiorization and solipsism because it indicates that the object of the address can exist only as a product of poetic intervention (Culler, 146).
Humberts solitary standing and Lolitas total absence reveals discrepancy in that this book is about Lolita (Nabokov, 253).
De-victimizing Lolita: Removing Emotion from the Classroom Abstract: This paper focuses on Vladimir Nabokov's novel Lolita. Specifically the argument discusses the need for reform within the classroom setting regarding student reaction and interpretation to the text. Class discussion involving Lolita tends to fall under a blanket of socially constructed presumptions that lend the discussion toward ...
Earlier in the novel he narrates: What I had madly possessed was not she, but my own creation, another, fanciful Lolita … having no will, no consciousness – indeed no life of her own (Nabokov, 62).
Bibliography Nabokov, Vladimir. Lolita. New York: Vintage, 1991 Culler, Jonathan. The Pursuit of Signs: Semiotics, Literature, Deconstruction. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1981.