Quayle, Anika Susan. Lolita Is Dolores Haze: The 'Real' Child and the 'Real' Body in Lolita. 2009

Bibliographic title
Lolita Is Dolores Haze: The 'Real' Child and the 'Real' Body in Lolita
Periodical or collection
Nabokov Online Journal
Periodical issue
v. 3
Publication year

The dominant trend in Lolita criticism, according to Quayle, is to read Humbert as 'blind' to the real Lolita by a 'solipsistic' image of her that is a product of his artistic imagination. It is commonly argued that Humbert sees her as, for example, a second incarnation of his childhood love, Annabel Leigh, or as a sexualized demonic nymphet. There are, however, clear indications within the novel that Humbert does not truly see Lolita in these terms, and the argument that Humbert is 'blind' to Lolita is further belied by the fact that the real Lolita, as accurately perceived by him, is a central and constant presence in his narrative. This tendency to read Humbert as obsessed with an image from his imagination rather than a 'real' girl has the effect of obscuring Humbert's more prosaic obsession with Lolita's physical appeal; it thus also has the effect of obscuring the novel's socially highly relevant comment on the 'objectification' of women.