Lo – Lee – Ta (November 2 , 2012)
(Lecture # 1)
• 34/483 (highest 88).
• You can always count on a murderer for a fancyprose style.
• Style is key for Nabokov. Style separates authors from one another.
• Literature can contain ideas, but literature is not ideas. It is a carefully constructed
• Nabokov: rich vocabulary, rhythmic style. He cannot resist showing off.
• Synesthesia, words have texture, colour, weight.
• (P. 129), I shall not exist if you do not imagine me.
• As long as he keeps writing, Lolita is alive. Words bring life.
• Does Humbert really love Lolita? Lolita does not love him back. Unrequited love.
• The literary/ethical problem: falling for Humbert’s love story might be the actual
problem. Humbert’s confession tries to seduce the reader, as he does, Lolita. He
plays with the reader. A parody of a confession. Pathos + parody, at the same time.
This is what makes the novel difficult. Satire.
• “A lilting demise of frugal foreplay”
• Nabokov: filthy aristocrat. St Petersberg
• Butterflies: excessive. Traits biology/evolution/Darwinism can’t explain.
Beautiful, intricate details. A parallel between butterflies and Nabokov’s writing
• Took him five years to write Lolita.
• Lolita as a barred animal, kept in a cage, trapped.
• It was the artist’s duty was to create a different world, and not write a commentary
of their time. It’s impossible however, to divorce yourself from your time.
• This is not a cautionary tale. It is meant to be startling, but also real.
Old Europe versus New America. The novel invites this perspective, but he does not
agree with it.
Lolita, a princess, surrounded by roses.
Spoonerism: by intention or mistake you mix up consonants or vowels.
P. 314 “Aesthetic bliss”