InNoReMo 2008: Lolita, Part One, Foreword and Chapters 1-13

The book starts out with a foreword pretending that what we're going to read is a real memoir. This device was quite common in the early days of the novel but then fell out of fashion. (The only recent novel I can think of that has this is Eco's The Name of the Rose.) I rather like it.

I used to dislike this whole bit about Annabelle and how that had led Humbert to desiring young girls - I believe (but am willing to be corrected on this one) that the explanation of those preferences isn't quite as easy in real life. However, in Humbert we have a textbook example of an unreliable narrator. I now like to think that he's simply making this whole Annabelle business up to make himself look better in front of judge and jury, despite (or especially because?) he is explicitly denying it.

As correctly pointed out by Humbert, in other societies relationships between adult men and pubescent girls is nothing out of the ordinary. Actual pedophelia - a preference for preadolescents - is a bit of a mystery, given that it conveys an adaptive disadvantage. This is not the case with a preference for adolescent girls. It is hence a bit surprising that such a preference seems so rare. I guess it tells you something about the power of social norms.

Favourite passage

I'll be unoriginal and go for the first paragraph of chapter 1:

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate, to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.

Favourite expression: "standard-brained"

1 comment:

Steve Sailer said...

By the way, the personality of the author of the phony preface in "The Name of the Rose" is based on the narrator of Nabokov's "Pale Fire" with a little Borges thrown in.