Wednesday, April 8, 2009

More close reading

After numerous Lolita related blog posts, I’m not sure what else to write about. So, in order to prepare for the test tomorrow, I decided to close read another passage from the novel. I chose the last paragraph of Lolita.

“Thus, neither of us is alive when the reader opens this book. But while the blood still throbs through my writing hand, you are still as much part of the blessed matter as I am, and I can still talk to you from here to Alaska. Be true to your Dick. Do not let other fellows touch you. Do not talk to strangers. I hope you will love your baby. I hope it will be a boy. That husband of yours, I hope, will always treat you well, because otherwise my specter shall come at him, like black smoke, like a demented giant, and pull him apart nerve by nerve. And do not pity C.Q. One had to choose between him and H.H, and one wanted H.H to exist at least a couple months longer, so as to have him make you live in the minds of later generations. I am thinking of aurochs and angels, the secret of durable pigments, prophetic sonnets, the refuge of art. And this is the only immortality you and I may share, my Lolita.” (pg. 309)

While the vast majority of the novel is written from Humbert to the reader, in the last paragraph of the novel Humbert speaks directly to his love and obsession, Lolita. Humbert begins in a very poetic fashion, speaking of his flowing blood and dismissing the immense distance between Lolita and himself. Just in case, after reading over three hundred pages of the novel, the reader is somehow unaware that Humbert is in love with Lolita, it is clearly laid out here for the final time. Following Humbert’s heartfelt introduction, simple, paternal commands are given to Lolita. Throughout the entire novel, I do not think there is another single instance where a succession of such straightforward and uncomplicated sentences is utilized. Humbert is saying goodbye to his Lolita and marking his obsessive love for her by using protective, common place language. At the very mention of Lolita’s husband not treating her with the utmost respect, the narrator’s psychotic, murderous tendencies are brought to light and Nabokov’s trademark, verbose language immediately replaces the previous simple commands.

After reading only a short portion of the novel, one can assume that Humbert is as mentally insane as he is narcissistic. This madness and narcissism is illustrated in the end of his last paragraph. “And do not pity C.Q. One had to choose between himself and H.H, and one wanted H.H to exist at least a couple of months longer, so as to have him make you live in the minds of later generations.” Only to Humbert would there be room for only one of the two men to live. Quilty’s very existence, despite the fact that he is no longer involved in Lolita’s life, threatens Humbert. Finally, Humbert has finished his tale and ends with the same word as his book began, “Lolita.” By doing so, the story seems to be very well confined between the literal pages and solidifies Humbert’s meticulous nature.

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