Lolita Quotes: Nabokov’s Narrative Craft

Lolita is a controversial novel by Russian-American writer Vladimir Nabokov, first published in 1955. It tells the story of Humbert Humbert, a middle-aged literature professor who becomes obsessed with a 12-year-old girl named Dolores Haze, whom he nicknames Lolita.

The novel explores themes such as love, obsession, sexuality, morality, and art, and is widely regarded as one of the greatest works of the 20th century.

One of the most striking features of Lolita is Nabokov’s use of language, which is rich, witty, poetic, and playful.

He creates memorable sentences that capture the emotions and thoughts of his characters, as well as the beauty and horror of his subject matter.

Some of the most famous quotes from Lolita include:

– “Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul.”

This is the opening sentence of the novel, and it introduces the reader to Humbert’s passionate and possessive feelings for Lolita. It also establishes the tone of the novel, which is a mixture of romance, tragedy, and irony.

– “It was love at first sight, at last sight, at ever and ever sight.”

This is Humbert’s description of his first encounter with Lolita, when he sees her playing tennis at a summer camp. He is instantly smitten by her, and he believes that their love is eternal and fated.

– “And the rest is rust and stardust.”

This is the last sentence of the novel, and it summarizes Humbert’s fate after he loses Lolita. He realizes that his love for her was doomed from the start and that nothing remains of their relationship but decay and dust.

– “I knew I had fallen in love with Lolita forever, but I also knew she would not be forever Lolita.”

This is Humbert’s reflection on his feelings for Lolita after he reunites with her when she is 17 and pregnant with another man’s child. He still loves her, but he also recognizes that she has grown up and changed and that he can never recapture the nymphet he idealized.

– “I loved you. I was a pentapod monster, but I loved you. I was despicable and brutal, and turpid, and everything, mais je t’aimais, je t’aimais!”

This is Humbert’s confession to Lolita, when he tries to persuade her to run away with him again. He admits that he was a monster who abused her, but he also claims that he loved her sincerely and deeply.

– “You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style.”

This is a metafictional comment by Humbert, who is aware that he is writing his own story, and who tries to impress the reader with his eloquence and erudition. He also hints at his own guilt, as he has killed a man who tried to take Lolita away from him.

– “Words without experience are meaningless.”

This is a statement by Humbert, who criticizes the critics and scholars who have analyzed his story without understanding his feelings. He also suggests that his words are not enough to convey the intensity and complexity of his experience with Lolita.

These are just some of the many quotes from Lolita that showcase Nabokov’s mastery of language and his ability to create a compelling and controversial narrative. Lolita is a novel that challenges and provokes the reader, and that remains relevant and influential to this day.

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