InNoReMo 2008: Lolita, Pt. 2, Ch.s 20-26

A-ha! Why, I might have asked myself all along, does the narrator call himself Humbert Humbert, a penname of his own choosing as we are informed in the foreword? There it is:
To the hospital in general I apologized with a flourish that almost bowled me over, adding however that I was not on particularly good terms with the rest of the Humbert clan. To myself I whispered that I still had my gun, and was still a free man – free to trace the fugitive, free to destroy my brother.
In other words, the narrator compartmentalizes his personality: There is Humbert the lover of “nymphets” (“the fugitive”) and Humbert the cultured gentleman (“my brother”). In that context, the statement that he is “not on particularly good terms with the rest of the Humbert clan” takes on a second meaning: The two Humberts are, unsurprisingly, in conflict with each other.

I really should have thought of that before.

More generally, I think this would be a great novel to read in school (at around pupils’ age eighteen). It is neither too easy nor too hard to interpret, a balance not found that often. Also, it’s not too long and it has sex and crime in it. What a shame that the subject matter might get the teacher in trouble with the parents.

Favourite Passage
“Lo! Lola! Lolita!” I hear myself crying from a doorway into the sun, with the acoustics of time, domed time, endowing my call and its telltale hoarseness with a wealth of anxiety, passion and pain that really it would have been instrumental in wrenching open the zipper of her nylon shroud had she been dead. Lolita!

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