Vladimir Nabokov

Durantaye, Leland de la. The Art of Morality, or on Lolita. 2016

Bibliographic title
The Art of Morality, or on Lolita
Periodical or collection
Nabokov and the Question of Morality: Aesthetics, Metaphysics, and the Ethics of Fiction
Publication year

Ch. 11

Leland de la Durantaye argues that Nabokov considered morality—as opposed to “moralizing,” which he detested—to be inseparable from a work of art. Lolita, for example, “is a moral book” because it continually alludes to the very question of whether or not Humbert’s behavior is moral. In “The Art of Morality, or on Lolita,” Durantaye identifies the formal strategies by which Nabokov leads his readers to ponder such questions; he shows, for example, how Nabokov carefully orchestrates the tension between lyricism and parody in Humbert’s narration as well as the shift from blindness to insight in Humbert’s understanding of himself.