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About Me:18-year-old sixth form student, studying English Literature, History and Government and Politics. My articles will broadly cover topics from the current affairs of politics to reviews of books and albums, as well as adding my own creative pieces, whether it be short fiction or general opinion.
It is the latter theme which I will dedicate the rest of the review, and hopefully enlighten even learned readers of the novel to new and pivotal ways in which the novel can be read. Because of such inflammatory subject matter and the bewitching use of language, much of the structural genius of the writing has gone unnoticed and under-appreciated. Taken at such a base level as to see it as a paedophile merely covering his tracts in linguistic stardust makes for a mediocre novel. What I find the most ingenious and perfectly orchestrated vein of the novel is the pervading exploration of reality and fantasy. We must remember that Nabokov has it so that Humbert subjects little girls to not only his fantasy (that being a distance from the legislative barrier of reality) but also a fantasy running parallel to the reader’s reality. There is a brilliant section at the beginning of the novel when Humbert Humbert describes the girls he has a particular sexual interest in as “nymphets”. This is an adaptation of Greek mythology. Nymphs were supposed spirits of nature with beautifully bewitching qualities. Humbert’s use of this term not only nullifies his own possession and in turn mollifies his immorality, but it also distances the subjects of his sexual deviance into a realm outside of reality, thus rendering what he does away from the foreground of our consciousness. This is but a mere fraction of the ultimate theme of the dichotomy between reality and fantasy within Lolita. An important structural aspect of the novel that plays into this theme is the exploration of the notion of fate. The novel is split into two parts – the first of which is Humbert’s history of sexual relationships with little girls, the way in which he finds himself in the Haze household and the miraculous, and (as if divinely conducted) the purely coincidental death of Lolita’s mother, Charlotte. Within this section it seems that fate has an inclination towards Humbert’s liking. Notice when you read that almost everything goes Humbert’s way, the cause and effect of each action miraculously enabling him to carry out his act of paedophilia. This makes Humbert’s actions seem somewhat ordained, thus almost legitimising. However, as Martin Amis has said, however cruel Humbert is to Lolita, Nabokov is even crueler to Humbert Humbert. This is seen in the second part of the book when it becomes clear that Lolita has rejected the fantasy Humbert has concocted for them and runs away with his double, a playwright, Clare Quilty. Nabokov appears to establish the point that reality and fantasy are incompatible, and as such forces us to question the relationship between life and art. Through such themes, Nabokov illustrates that life does not follow the intractable path that is allowed to be set out in artistic endeavours: coincidence only runs on for so long, and bad luck is its quantifiable equal. The tragedy of the novel, it has been argued, is not the innocence of a young girl ruined by a much older man but the complete and abject failure of the older man in his plans.
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