Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0024630, Fri, 27 Sep 2013 07:06:41 -0700

Incest in Lolitaa?
All this recent chatter about sibling incest, and the occasional mentions of Lolita and possible incest remind me of an idea I got last time I watched the film - kubrick's I mean. Although Humbert turns Charlotte Haze into Charlotte Humbert, I never interpreted the illicit relation between Humbert and his step-daughter as incestuous. Perhaps quibbling but since the sexual attraction to the daughter motivates the marriage, Humbert seems less of a father somehow.

But that is not really my point. In the film there is a scene where a gun is introduced into the plot. If I recall correctly, Charlotte (Shelley Winters) displays it to Humbert wrapped in a cloth which she unwraps so he can see what it is. She calls it a sacred object, at least that is how I remember it. She has constructed a shrine in her bedroom ostensibly to honor the Late Mr. Haze, as she calls him.

It struck me that the gun might actually be a murder weapon, and that Charlotte had discovered an incestuous relationship between her no-name husband and Lolita, and had dispatched Mr Haze to the next world. The shrine is then a sort of psychological diversion or attempt at self-delusion (Jansy?)

It used to be a commonplace in the early days of Lolita criticism, perhaps because Freud was taken more seriously than he is now?, that the child had seduced the adult,* and there are hints of that in the Kubrick film. I doubt anyone reads the book that way anymore, but if Lolita's relationship with her father had become sexualised, that would go some way to explaining her attraction to and behavior towards Humbert, which, again I am remembering the film more clearly than the original, was certainly flirtatious, if not actually seductive.


* the words young America seducing old Europe spring to mind, but from where?

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