NABOKV-L post 0022605, Sat, 17 Mar 2012 16:36:32 -0400

Re: The "56 days" conundrum in "Lolita"
To toss in a moderator's two cents--

I too had counted, some years ago, the exact number of days, and
remember noticing that there was some room for ambiguity or confusion
once one actually starts counting and adding the segments of days from
each month. I vaguely remember sensing that someone, including Humbert,
might count it the non-standard way (counting all 16 days in November,
e.g., and get 31+16+9=56=Sept 22 (the day HH receives the letter),
rather than 31+14+10=56=Sept. 21. I never went further with it, and at
the time, I paid no attention to the fact that counting from Nov 16,
Sept. 25 should be "52 days ago." But it does seem that the 52 is
suggestive, and yes, the 52s in the "paper chase" are strong
Shakespearian markers, signs of what Humbert later calls "the ingenious
play staged for me by Quilty." In fact, when Quilty has died, Humbert
precedes these words with: "This, I said to myself, was the end of
.....". One way, among many, to read the latent 52 is as a sign that
the murder was not, in fact, the end of the "ingenious play." But I'm
sure there are other possible and tempting ways to read it.

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