Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Lolita

 

Summary
  1. A deranged but very smart and well educated professor called Humbert Humbert details his obsession with 12 year old Dolores Haze whom he has nicknamed for himself, Lolita. He will do anything to possess Lolita, including marrying her mother and taking her out of school to drive cross-country with her.
Key Takeaways
  1. Nabokov has created an incredibly engaging book which keeps you reading even though the events and images conjured are so nasty and discomforting. His amazing use of language – allusions, patterns, puns, etc – distracts and charms the reader and forces one to see the world through Humbert’s eyes – making it more difficult to judge and hate him
  2. “Then, with perfect simplicity, the impudent child extended her legs across my lap. By this time I was in a state of excitement bordering on insanity; but I also had the cunning of the insane”
  3. “…thrusting my fatherly fingers deep into Lo’s hair from behind, and then gently but firmly clasping them around the nape of her neck, I would lead my reluctant pet to our small home for a quick connection before dinner.”
  4. Realizes he is insane – “By psychoanalyzing this poem [his poem], I notice it is really a maniac’s masterpiece. The stark, stiff, lurid rhymes correspond very exactly to certain perspectiveless and terrible landscapes and figure, and magnified parts of landscapes and figure, as drawn by psychopaths in tests devised by their astute trainers.”
What I got out of it
  1. Twisted. I could not help but cringe at certain passages within this book. It is superbly written and not surprising that it received immediate, although often subdued, literary acclaim. Nobakov received a lot of resistance in America from publishers but was eventually able to publish it in France and the book’s success soon made its way over to America.

Read Lolita

  • Reminisces about some of his earlier sexual encounters but none of them could come close to his love for Lolita
  • Lolita’s mother, Charlotte Haze, is in love with Humbert and basically proposes in a letter. He accepts only to be able to hold and caress and be around Lolita. He confides his sexual lust for Lolita in his journal which Charlotte later finds. She leaves him but just then she gets hit by a car and dies
  • Funny that this would give him the creeps – “She said it did not matter one bit [if he had mixed ancestry]; but that, if she ever found out I did not believe in Our Christian God, she would commit suicide. She said it so solemnly that it gave me the creeps.”
  • Humbert was considering what would happen when Lolita turned 15 and lost her “nymphness.” He then went on to brainstorm having a child with her, waiting 8-10 years and then having a Lolita II. AHHHH
  • Lolita disappeared after a brief stay in the hospital and Humbert goes to great lengths to try to find her. He tracks down clues but she is gone for more than 2 years
  • While he was looking for Lolita, he picked up Rita and drove around the country with her for over 2 years. She was a thrice divorced drunk who often found herself in jail
  • Gets a letter from Dolly (Lolita) a couple years later saying she is about to be married and is expecting but needs some money. He tracked her down and was thinking of killing her husband since he thought he was the person who took her from the hospital, but he didn’t. He also asked her to leave her fiance and live with him but she said no. Finally, he gave her some much needed money. He finds out that Quilty is the person who took Lolita from the hospital when she was sick. After leaving Lolita he tracks down and kills Quilty and is soon arrested. He finishes writing his memoir but stipulates that it cannot be released until both him and Lolita are dead. As she dies giving childbirth soon after and he dies of heart problems, the manuscript is soon sent to John Ray and is published

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