Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Whole Lottelita

I chose the middle paragraph on p. 76. It is the section where Humbert is trying to project his love for Lo onto Charlotte. He finds a sort of closeness in knowing that Charlotte is "the white stomach within which my nymphet had been a little curved fish in 1934". He is able to make love to Charlotte because he can imagine the image of Lolita in her fading features (and with the help of “highballs before turning in”). I like his use of “large-as-life wife”. The rhyming and the understatement (larger than life being the typical usage) show the humor in Humbert’s pitiful attempt to live a normal life. Normal isn’t possible for him; he is too far-gone already.

In the second sentence, the words “utter” and “adoration” both contain a similar stress in their first syllable. This semi-assonance can be clearly felt and heard when speaking the words.

“I recognized a resemblance to the lovely, inane, lost look that Lo had when gloating over a new kind of concoction at the soda fountain…”. There is consonance between the R’s, L’s, and between the K and the C. This repetition gives his sentences a sort of whimsical rhyming feel.

I especially like Nabokov’s use of “Lottelita” to describe Charlotte. There is the obvious placement of Lotte into Lolita to signify that Charlotte was once a nymphet, but Lottelita also sounds like “a lot of Lita”. Charlotte is older and larger than Lolita; she is a lot of Lolita.

I am taking a class over Russian sc-fiction in literature and film and we talk a lot about how intentional the naming is in Russian literature. Names oftentimes have a root word in them that means something relevant to the story. Double names are also commonly used. Bulgakov names the dog in his novel Heart of a Dog Poligraf Poligrafovich. Nonsense names like this are very common. Humbert Humbert is a sort of tribute by Nabokov to these older Russian authors.

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