Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0024738, Fri, 1 Nov 2013 02:05:15 -0700

Re: Taking Humbert and Quilty Singularly
[if all this has already been spelled out by lister--I haven't been paying close attention to every posting--I'm sorry for wasting time, but I hadn't seen any exact quotations, and specific e.g.'s to bolster theories seem always welcome.]

Page 70 of The library of America edition has Humbert talking to a reporter after he and Charlotte Haze have married, giving background information about himself: "McCoo's brother, when taking it down, asked me what I had written. Whatever I told him came out as 'several books on Peacock, Rainbow and other poets.' It was also noted that Charlotte and I had known each other for several years and that  I was a distnant relation of her first husband. I hinted I had had an affair with her thirteen years ago but this was not mentioned in print. To Charlotte I said that society columns shouldcontain a shimmer of errors." (italics Nabokov)

Second referrence comes page 93: "In a moment of superb inspiration I showed the kind and credulous Farlows (we were waiting for Leslie to come for his paid tryst with Louise) a little photograph of Charlotte I had found among her afairs. Form a boulder she smiled through blown hair. It had been taken in April, 1934, a memorable spring. While on a business visit to the States, I had had occasion to spend several months in Pisky. We met--and had a mad love affair. I was married, alas, and she was engaged to Haze, but after I returned to Europe, we corresponded through a friend, now dead. Jean whispered she had heard some rumors and looked at the snapshot, and still looking, handed it to John, and John removed his pipe and looked at lovely and fast Charlotte Becker, and handed it back to me."

Third and completing referrence comes the next page, 94, when John Farlow, stunned that Humbert doesn't want Lolita fetched for her mother's funeral says: "'Well, you are the doctor....But after all I was Charlotte's friend and adviser. One would like to know what you are going to do about the child anyway'. 'John,' cried Jean, 'she is his child, not Harold Haze's. Don't you understand? Humbert  is Dolly's real father.' 'I see,' said John. 'I am sorry. Yes, I see. I did not realize that. It simplifies matters, of course. And whatever you feel is right.'"

To me it seems very obvious Humbert could not possibly be the father of Lolita (wouldn't he have mentioned the interluding affair with Charlotte during the Valeria section?--and anyway such an affair would have been physically impossible for him without special motivation, considering Humbert's condition). This was just a lie he insinuated, which became a helpful rumor that spread around Ramsdale, apparently, as Jean attests. Presumably, in the first instance. Firstly, everything Humbert told the reporter presumably made it into the column, which Humbert calls "a shimmer of errors." Clearly the picture he shows the Farlows and the story behind it are a simple fabrication as the phrase "a moment of superb inspiration" tells us. Humbert says either earlier or later that he liked to think of Lolita as being his daughter, with the presumption she's not really. I don't think there's any room for ambiguity here. 

From: Carolyn Kunin <chaiselongue@ATT.NET>
Sent: Sunday, October 27, 2013 11:10 PM
Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] Taking Humbert and Quilty Singularly

I think there are two references to a previous liaison between Charlotte and Humbert - preceding the Haze/Hase/Hays marriage. It took place 13 years before Lolita's most immemorial (i.e.  12th) year. The first is a hint that Humbert drops to the newspaper when he goes to have the nuptials announced and the other -- well, I'll have to look for it.

Mrs Farlow seems to know about it, too. I'll have to check to make sure it's not another of those film memories. I'll get back to you.

If Humbert is Lolita's biological father it gives him further incentive to try to protect his daughter, but it would seem he is too late. 

By the way, did I miss something or does the second world war not seem to have affected anyone in the novel? Is it even hinted at?


From: Jansy Mello <jansy.nabokv-L@AETERN.US>
Sent: Saturday, October 26, 2013 4:35 PM
Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] Taking Humbert and Quilty Singularly

Carolyn Kunin [to JM]: But I'm
impressed that you suspected Humbert's innocence - it never occurred to me until
just a few weeks ago, in relation to the accusation against Colette (de
Juvenal).I;ve been re-reading Lolita since I wrote in - and
I am more and more convinced that Humbert in fact is Lolita's biological
father...I hope others will join us in this quest for the guilty
Jansy Mello: I needed you to say that HH
might be "innocent," because my suspicions were hazy and not actually
formulated (most of his adventures suggested instances of erotic
fantasies migled with paranoia, idealization, wishful thinking ...
and that's as far as I went).
Now you say that Humbert is Lolita's biological father? How
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