NaNoReMo 2008: Lolita Part II, Chapters 1-5

Page reached: 180 of 298 (60.40%).

Status Report:

Favorite passage: And suddenly the book becomes a satirical incitement of Americana and our rampant consumer culture. Well, I guess it wasn’t that “sudden”–the whole point of dividing a novel into parts is to compartmentalize distict narrative arcs and motifs, I guess–but still, I was somewhat surprised in the complete change of focus found in the the first five chapters of Part 2.

But once I got into the groove, I thought I knew where Nabokov was going with it. After laying the expository groundwork, I fully expected the author to draw an equivillence between Humbert Humbert’s “consumption” of Lolita and mindless consumerism of the average American. In other words, I expected H. H. to be dissatisfied with Lolita now that he had obtained her, to have a kind of buyers remourse, to already be on the market for his next purchase.

Instead:

I do not intend to convey the impression that I did not manage to be happy. Reader must understand that in the possession and thralldom of a nymphet the enchanted traveler stands, as it were, beyond happiness. For there is no other bliss on earth comparable to that of fondling a nymphet. It is hors concours, that bliss, it belongs to another class, another plane of sensitivity. Despite our tiffs, despite her nastiness, despite all the fuss and faces she made, and the vulgarity, and the danger, and the horrible hopelessness of it all, I still dwelled deep in my elected paradise--a paradise whose skies were the color of hell-flames--but still a paradise.

Yeah, not exactly how one feels a week after buying an iPod. Moral: Do not try an anticipate Vladimir Nabokov, for he works in mysterious ways.

Words Looked Up:

  • Matitudinal: Not in the dictionary, but my annotated Lolita defines it in the endnotes as “from matin, an ecclesiastical duty performed early in the morning.”

  • Leporine: Of or characteristic of rabbits or hares.
  • Crepiated: Not a dictionary word, but “crepiation” means: A noise produced by the rubbing of fractured ends of bones, by cracking joints, and by pressure upon tissues containing abnormal amounts of air.
  • Caravansaries: An inn built around a large court for accommodating caravans along trade routes.
  • Pavonine: Of or resembling a peacock.
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6 comments.

  1. It’s not in the dictionary because it’s spelled “crepiTated,” “crepiTation,” etc.

    Also, it’s said to sound/feel like Rice Krispies.

  2. If I wanted to hear about a child molester railing against consumerism, I’d ask the Pope.

    Heyooooooooo!

  3. I dunno if I’d call it railing, really. I think you might be reading it that way from a liberalish 2008 perspective — Nabokov was writing in the 50s, as someone who had experienced both the heights and the depths of European society. He loved America, was grateful to it, marvelled at it….Humbert is being more that a little wry and ironical, but that’s the callow Humbert speaking, and not quite Nabokov. And even Humbert comes around a bit in the end, that line in there…”defiled with a sinuous trail of slime lovely, trustful, dreamy, enormous country”

  4. You dare mock me, Jesus? Nobody fucks with the Jesus! Prepare to be smited, fine sir.

  5. I think you meant ‘indictment’ rather than ‘incitement’.

  6. You are almost making me want to reread this book, and I found HH so annoying the first time, I could hardly stand to finish.

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