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Nabokov, Lolita: all


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Lolita on Page and Screen, cont....
In class tomorrow, I'll be interested to hear (a) your reactions to the films (and how those reactions may have made you think about your reactions to the book); (b) your reactions to the end of the book; (c) your thoughts about how the book fits into this course. Feel free to talk about any of the above in your ODCs, as well.

Below are some links to reviews and other information on the two films we excerpted in class, in case you're interested to find out how the world reacted to each:

Kubrick's film:

Lyne's film:

Comparative reviews (weighing the two films against each other):

Images and Multimedia: a selection from both films, put together by students at the U. of Arizona

More "Stolen" Study Questions (optional)
The following study questions are largely taken from a Random House website devoted to Lolita, with my own additions, emendations, and general editing. I'm particularly interested on hearing your thoughts re: the end of the book, or on the book as a whole (sum of its parts).

Feel free to look back at Tuesday's study questions as well.

  1. Humbert Humbert is an émigré. Not only has he left Europe for America, but in the course of Lolita he becomes an erotic refugee, fleeing the stability of Ramsdale and Beardsley for a life in motel rooms and highway rest stops. How does this fact shape his responses to his environment (including other characters) and its responses to him? To what extent is the America of Lolita an exile's America? What is his America like? Is it possible to see Lolita as Nabokov's veiled meditation on his own exile? Does the novel change your awareness of your own perspective on America?

  2. Quilty makes his first onstage appearance at The Enchanted Hunters, just before Humbert beds Lolita for the first time. Yet rumors and allusions precede him. Does the revelation of Quilty's identity come as a surprise? Is it the true climax of Lolita? How does Nabokov prepare us for this revelation? Since the mystery of Quilty's identity turns this novel into a kind of detective story (in which the protagonist is both detective and criminal), it may be useful to compare Lolita to other examples of the genre, such as Poe's The Purloined Letter, Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, or Agatha Christie's A Murder Is Announced, all of which are alluded to in the text.

  3. Among our early clues about Quilty is his resemblance to Humbert (or Humbert's resemblance to him). This resemblance is one of the reasons that Lolita finds her mother's boarder attractive, and we are reminded of it later on when Humbert believes for a brief time that Quilty may be his uncle Trapp. How does Quilty conform to the archetype of the double or Doppelgänger? In its literary incarnations, a double may represent the protagonist's evil underself or his higher nature. What sort of double is Quilty? Are we ever given the impression that Humbert may be Quilty's double?

  4. The last lines of Lolita are: "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" [p. 309]. What is the meaning of this passage? What does art offer Humbert and his beloved that sexual passion cannot? Is this aesthetic appeal merely the mask with which Humbert conceals or justifies his perversion, or is the immortality of art the thing that Humbert and his creator have been seeking all along? In what ways is Lolita at once a meditation on, and a re-creation of, the artistic process?

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