Levine, Peter. Lolita and Aristotle's ethics. 1995

Author(s)
Bibliographic title

Lolita and Aristotle's ethics

Periodical or collection
Philosophy and Literature
Periodical issue
v. 19, no. 1
Page(s)
32-47
Publication year
Comment
Abstract

Aristotle claims that narrative can depict virtue and vice in particular cases, and that literature's moral meanings are not subject to philosophical paraphrase. He distrusts generalization in ethics, asserting that valid judgments rest on the perception of particulars. But this position is itself an unprovable generalization. If philosophy cannot prove the superiority of narrative over moral theory, perhaps literature can show it. In "Lolita", Nabokov reveals the moral hazards of theory while depicting one man's profound evil. Thus "Lolita" is an illuminating example of pure Aristotelian fiction that serves a moral function without recourse to theory .