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In a less subversive way, the text of Lolita displaces its original conception, The Enchanter. Whilst the two novels cover similar premises (namely a focus on the manipulation by a middle-aged man to enact his sexual frustrations on a young girl), there is still enough disparity between them to consider them as two separate pieces of work. Perhaps the most prominent difference would be that The Enchanter is narrated in third-person whilst Lolita is through the eyes of the perpetrator, Humbert Humbert. This suggests that while manipulation and enchanting was something of prime importance for both texts, Nabokov wished to involve the reader within this enchantment rather than merely show how enchanting can happen through the interaction of characters within a novel. Thus, the beginning of Lolita, The Enchanter, was displaced by its subsequent text not merely through slight character and plot changes, but also by its form. As such, it is clear that a text can not only displace its original inspiration but that it can also displace its original conception.
To conclude, it is evident that beginnings to text are both various and, at times, illusory. In terms of the beginning being the first word of a text, Nabokov exposes how this notion is tenuous by offering us a flawed frame before the actual body of the text, thus forcing us to challenge our preconceptions before truly starting the ‘beginning’ of the text. If we are to view beginnings as being the inspiration for the text, the ‘first little throb’ (311), then it can be seen that Nabokov again parodies this by offering not only a contrast to it within his novel but also by offering us a deceitful type of inspiration. Lastly, if beginnings are to be seen as the work’s earliest conception then it can be said that every text that has gone through the process of editing or involving various versions (in short, almost every text) has had its beginning displaced.
Image Credits: newbeginnings.org.uk