Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0016196, Tue, 15 Apr 2008 09:22:29 -0400

Re: QUERY: Lolita's subjectivity and America
Barrie asked: "What are the best writings, if any, on what it's like to be
Lolita, or how someone becomes Lolita? Whose imagination imagines what
Lolita is really like -- her subjectivity?"

MR: Most of the criticism I have encountered focuses on Humbert's
"solipsizing" of Lolita. She has no subjectivity that we can access, since
the Lolita we are given is, as Humbert says, "not she, but my own creation,
another, fanciful Lolita--perhaps, more real than Lolita; overlapping,
encasing her; floating between me and her, and having no will, no
consciousness--indeed, no life of her own" (62 AnL). Leland de la
Durantaye, in his excellent, very readable book Style is Matter: The Moral
Art of Vladimir Nabokov, does a great job unpacking all of the repercussions
(for Humbert and for us) of this deeply flawed imaginative act. As he puts
it, Humbert "can only 'enjoy in peace' his vicious circle of paradise if the
real little girl he is do desperately mistreating does not too violently
interpose herself--and so he decides to 'firmly ignore' her in favor of the
'phantasm' first formed on this fateful Sunday [the davenport scene]"
(72-73). I do not think it is possible to know or to guess who the actual
(fictional) Dolores Haze might be, though we know that she is not the girl
Humbert gives himself and, by extension, us.

Matt Roth

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