Crowdsourcing Quilty (comment due by M 11/11)

Thanks for a really interesting conversation in class today about both the characterization of Quilty and the role he plays in Lolita. We threw a lot of fascinating ideas around: that Quilty is Humbert’s doppleganger, that he is the ultimate “Master” (because he got what Humbert could never get: Lolita’s love), that he is the unfortunate source of Humbert’s misguided revenge, that he is the part of Humbert (the straight up pedophile, without the beautiful narrative/memoir to justify his actions) that Humbert hates/regrets/wants to destroy, etc. etc. etc. …

This post is a space for us to continue this conversation, especially in terms of places in the text that (on a re-reading of the novel) foreshadow Quilty’s major role in the plot as well as how Humbert and Quilty are aligned in many ways (their characters fuse at various points). Therefore, before Tuesday’s class (so by Monday night, 11/11), everyone should make a least one comment here, with both a piece of textual evidence (quote, with citation/page number) and analysis of what this quote signifies in terms of our understanding of Quilty in the novel.

*Feel free also to start new discussion threads (new posts) about any other aspect of the novel that we haven’t gotten to yet in class or that you want to discuss (for example, we still haven’t really talked about Rita!), and hopefully we can get some good virtual discussions here to help you think critically about the text as you work on drafting your essay on Lolita.

13 thoughts on “Crowdsourcing Quilty (comment due by M 11/11)

  1. I hope I did not steal anyone’s ideas.

    Clare Quilty is foreshadowed when Humbert states, “I would not swear that there was not at least one occasion, prior to, or at the very beginning of, the Midwest lap of our journey, when she managed to convey some information to, or otherwise get in contact with, a person or persons unknown”(211).Who was Humbert searching for throughout the end of this story? Clare Quilty, the unknown character, whom’s whereabouts remained a mystery. It was also revealed by Mona, that Lolita has no interest in “mere boys”(191). She has more of an interest in grown men. An example of this is seen when Humbert catches Lolita talking to the “mechanic”(159).

    Perhaps Quilty’s character, his sexual nature, can be seen through Lolita. She describes Quilty as “a complete freak in sex matters”(276), based on what she witnessed at Duk Duk Ranch. Now earlier on, it is witnessed that Lolita is “obsessed with sexual thoughts”(196), making fun of the other girls and instructors for going on “innocent”(196) dates.

  2. i believe that Quilty is foreshadowed when Humbert finds out about the play that is named after their first hotel “The Enchanted Hunters”(201). it was more than a coincidence that it was the exact replica of the first hotel Humbert and Lolita visited. Quilty is mostly like a shadow time of being, he”s kind of like the underdog in this story, where he lets no one notice him and waits for the perfect chance to show himself and take what he wants. “I have seen his face now”(219). Humbert believes the person following him is none other than his cousin Trapp.

    Another time Quilty is foreshadowed when Humbert becomes aware that Quilty’s personality was similar to his. “his genre, his type of humor-at its best at least-the tone of his brain, had affinities with my own”(249). after noticing all the clues Quilty have left for Humbert; Humbert cant but admit that his way of thinking resembles Humbert himself.

  3. Thanks Aaron & Sekh for being the first brave commenters … these are great points!

    I know both of you wanted to make slight (sentence-level) revisions to your comments after-the-fact (I love that you are re-reading your writing and catching your own errors!). Just a heads-up that, if you are logged into the site, you can always go back and edit your original comment (by clicking “Edit”) itself rather than adding a follow up “correction” post. Does this make sense?

  4. I’m not sure if this is foreshadowing, but I think Quilty’s role in the story was first foreshadowed in one of his first “appearance” on page 127. The mysterious person that Humbert could not see had to of been aware of Humbert and Lolita as well as their relationship. This becomes apparent when the person/Quilty asks, “Who’s the lassie?” Then Humbert says, “My daughter.” Then the person/Quilty responds by saying, “You lie-she’s not.”(127) I found it odd that a random person would just accuse Humbert of lying about Lolita being his daughter, unless this person knew about them all along.

  5. Throughout the story Humbert and Quilty have mirrored each other in many aspects such as intelligence, sexual perversions, and especially their love for Lolita. This theory of Quilty being Humbert’s doppelganger and vice versa is introduced very early in the story. In chapter 11 Humbert is having an inner monologue, “I have all the characteristics which, according to writers on the sex interests of children, start the responses stirring in a little girl: clean-cut jaw, muscular hand, deep sonorous voice, broad shoulder. Moreover, I am said to resemble some crooner or actor chap on whom Lo has a crush” (43). Although Quilty is not mentioned this quote represents the basis for the love triangle that ensues later in the story and the beginning of the comparisons between the two men. Lolita loved Quilty, she loved Humbert because the two men were similarly attractive, and later found out they both have acts of sexual perversions that are not accepted by normal society.

  6. Clare Quilty is definitely a splitting image of Humbert. As one of my class mates said the other day in class whether or not he took action in the physical activities around him he still played a huge part in it. In my opinion Quilty is what started Lolita attraction to older guys. As stated in the text “he was the only man she ever been crazy about” (272). Not really wanting to make a comparison but its kinda like how Anabel was Humbert beginning, Quilty was Lolitas’s beginning.

    P.S I don’t Know if it was me just trying to get through the book, but i certainly didn’t notice Quilty through out it until later on, but i found it very interesting how Professor Belli pointed his name out from part one of the book (31) Not knowing his character would have impact in the story let alone the cause of what caused Humbert to go to jail.

  7. while Humbert was retracing his steps, back to the hotel he had visited with Lolita he had managed to find some clues. “He mimed and mocked me. His allusions were definitely highbrow. He was well-read.  He knew French. He was versed in logodaedaly and logomancy. He was an amature of lore sex…(249)” in this scene it seems as if humbert and quilty’s characteristics are aligned in some aspects.  They both seems smart and understand what they themselves are capable of. It would seem that both men would find it impossible to not be able to find each other.

    Humbert was more of an private detective than the one he had hired. Notice that he had managed to find all the clues leading up to Quilty without the detective’s help. Why is that? For me, I would say that only Humbert alone could found him, cause it seemed he was searching for himself, his darkerside

  8. what about when Mrs. Haze recommends humbert to their dentist, ” an Excellent dentist. out neighbor, in fact. Dr. Quilty. uncle or cousin, i think, of the playwright.” (63)
    this is a foreshadow too. that the same actor who Lo has a crush on, was similar to Humbert. “I am said to resemble some crooner or ator chap on whom Lo has a crush” (43)

  9. After the discussion in class I reflected on the book and noticed that a lot of the things that happened now made sense, lots of gaps that Humbert leaves without detail seem to clear up once I add Quilty to the picture, for example when Humbert states “He’s the only man she’s ever been crazy about”(272) and When Lolita disappears for 23 minutes and comes back saying she met a friend from school but in fact it was Quilty that she was seeing all along(224-225), skipping out in her piano lessons saying she was rehearsing for the play and coming home late from school. Saying that the man that approached her in the car was just a man who wanted a map and lost his way.(218) It kind of makes sense why Lolita was rebelling against Humbert, she saw that the man she truly loved was finally with her and following her everywhere, why pretend to with Humbert when she can finally have the one man she truly wants. Quilty was always there which is kind of fascinating that Humbert did not start to realize this until she leaves his side, after Lolita leaves I don’t think Quilty was playing with his mind, I feel that after Humbert lost Lolita he completely lost his mind with desperation that he no longer had the one girl who allowed him to fulfill his desires.

  10. Humbert narration about Quilty’s death is the most detailed one compared to the ones of other characters throughout the memoir. This odyssey takes four pages to unfold. P. 301 to 304 just as detail as when Humbert described Lolita when he met her.

  11. “Little Nymph (1940) traveled 14,000 miles and played 280 performances on the road during the winter before ending in New York” (31).

    Humbert uses this to foreshadow their trip around the country. Humbert saw the unusual connection with the play that was written about seven years before the trip even happened. Especially the fact that it’s title is Little Nymph and Lolita is Humbert’s Nymphet.

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