Crowdsourcing Humbert’s Self-Conscious Narration

As part of our reading of this Lolita (and the overall themes of this course), we are exploring the un/reliability of the narrator/narrative, the conflation of fact/fiction, the revision of memories, the reconstruction of experience, the ways in which storytellers attempt to portray their own, individual, personal truths (which may not be the same as the objective truth). Lolita is a rich text for performing a close reading around these “self-conscious” moments in the narrative. Consider the following:

Though Humbert Humbert tells readers that he is “no poet … only a very conscientious recorder” (72), we cannot forget that he has in the past been housed in many “sanatoriums” and that he is currently writing his narrative from a restricted prison library, on trial for murder.  Is he “reliable” as a narrator?  Humbert claims to produce an accurate reconstruction, “courtesy of a photographic memory” (40), but he often mentions that parts of his story are “omitted” or “amended.”  In fact, when Charlotte discovers Humbert’s secret desires for Lolita, he frankly omits his intention to change his story/lie to escape the consequences [“Rewrite.  Let her read it again.  She will not recall details.  Change, forge” (96).]  Similarly, his constant use of foreshadowing seems contrived.

And, though it is easy to forget, readers must remember that Lolita is not only a beautiful and painful memoir but also a “confession,” written by a “demented diarist” who needs to go to a “competent psychopathologist” and whose tale could be a classic “case history” in “psychiatric circles” (5).  Before we are introduced to Humbert’s voice, we come upon a “Foreword” by his lawyer, and readers’ attention is constantly called to the fact that this narrative is very much a “defense” (of both his irrational and illegal love for Lolita as well as his murder of Quilty).  He addresses his audience frequently [“Gentlemen of the jury!” (69)] and references his “criminal craving” (23) and “satanic” handwriting.  Who is his audience and what is his purpose with this memoir (keep in mind that there may be multiple audiences and purposes)? How does his self-conscious narration affect our understanding of the story? Can we trust his memoir?

In preparation for Thursday’s class (10/10), everyone should post at least one comment as a reply to this post (though I encourage many more) that provides one place in the pages we have already read (through Part One, Section 22) where Humbert explicitly draws attention (in a meta-fiction way) to the fact that he is carefully/consciously constructing a narrative and controlling his reader’s reception of the text. Your comment (reply) can be just a few sentences: provide the quote/citation and a quick explanation of how/why it functions. Feel free to post multiple comments, and also to respond to others. If you’ve already discussed some of these instances in your previous blogs, you should feel free to draw on that material.

We’ll add to these comments with each new section of the book we read, until we have a class-generated archive of all of these instances in the text.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

the narrator shows his strong emotions for Lolita by using Anabel. He start to feel how much love he has through Anabel. there is a little similarity between Anabel and Lolita. According to Humbert Humbert ” the other when you instantly evoke, with shut eyes, on the dark innerside of your eyelids, the objective, absolutely optical replica of a beloved face, a little ghost in natural colors (and this is how I see Lolita).” so in some point when he described Anabel , he begans to to see Lolita that same way. Humbert gains his feeling through his thoughts of Anabel. its the reason why he can see a replica of both of them. So in other words , Lolita was made through Anabel.


“Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov, is a novel that had me surprised, the whole time I was reading it. its a shock for me to learn that this book was an “monumental success” as described on the first page within the book. honestly, during my first pages of reading I wanted to stop reading, it seems so wrong. why? because it was very controversial for me, where the narrator seems interested in young children “girl-children” as he would say.

The book was challenging to read, but time had past and I started to pick up a little. while reading I realize that there are a lot of word I wasn’t familiar with, but luckily I had my dictionary along side me. though written in 1955, I would say, that I believe “Lolita” was way ahead of its time period. the way how words where structure, and being placed, though it was some time hard to keep track. Most of the time I would go back and re-read a page, and try to make sense out of it.

I would describe the narrator’s actions as those of a pedophiles’. on page 20 ,second paragraph, he stated “how marvelous were my fancied adventures as I sat on a hard park bench pretending to be immersed in a trembling book”. in this setting, he was getting pleasure through only watching the pre-adolescent girls within the park. reading this made me feel some-what uneasy. I understand nymphets are his preference but the idea of the approach is wrong in my opinion.




I have to admit that I had to look up a hand full of words from the text. It is a bit difficult to read compared to the other stories we’ve read during this semester. I had to reread some areas of the story. This book is interesting. It shows how someone views love. Of course love is common, but this is different. It’s not like a high school crush where every student in the school is in the same age group.

The main character is in love with Lolita. You can tell by the first thing you read, “Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Le. Lee. Ta. She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.”(9) Other than this sounding like a cheesy romantic line from a poem, this is a little creepy. The way this man feels towards someone so much younger than he is. The way he uses words to describe her is as if she is a grown woman who he has known all of his life. He compares her to a girl he loved names Annabel.

Lolita (Pgs 1-34)

In order to really understand what’s going on in this book I had to reread several parts until I understood it. There are key words that we need to know their meanings in order to understand what the author means in certain sentences so I had to look up words to know what they meant. But overall the beginning of this book is good because the author tells us characters within the story, who they are and clearly gives us a details on what the plot of this book is going to be about. It makes u want to keep reading to know what will happen next and what type of things are going to happen as we keep on reading.

We are introduce to, Humbert, a man who basically is a pedophile and is obsessed with “nymphets.” In the first chapter he describes to us Lolita’s name and describes her name in different ways and what some meant. We also learn that he had a previous lover before Lolita. He also then calls us readers as a jury saying, “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury”(pg. 9) as in preparing us to hear his dark tale or all his crimes that he have committed. Humbert then goes on telling us that was born in Paris 1910 mixture of Swiss, French and Austrian descent (pg. 9). His father owned a luxury hotel on the Riviera where he was raised. His mother died as in what he called a freak accident, “picnic, lightening” when he was only three years old. He also tells us that he grew up as “happy and healthy child.” (pg. 10) He attended an English day school near the hotel where he first met Annabel. When he first met her he had no one to talk about or consult about matters of sex or anything he needed because most the time his father was away on trips. They both hooked up several times holding hands under the sun at the beach. Annabel died of typhus. From what Humbert’s talks in the story he becomes attracted to young girls since he was with Annabel and thats why he claims that Lolita and her are connected and his reasons for doing the things he does. Annabel is the main key factor for why Humbert is attracted to young girls because he was so in love with Annabel and her being the first love he had since he was at young age explains his actions and ways of seeing females.

As you read more in this book you start feeling that you want to know more and more of Humbert’s life story. Is a very interesting plot that we are given which makes the book good. Aside from the vocabulary in this book we need to really understand many words to be able to really understand the details the author gives us. But overall this book gets better and better.


Lolita is definitely an interesting book that I wish we didn’t have to read lol. From the few pages we had to read I could say the book isn’t too bad. In the beginning the book the narrator shares with us that he sharing his stories with a jury and him also admit that his murder. I like the part when he starts reminiscing about how he grew up in Paris. When Annabel comes into the story I feel like they are very much in line with one another. But even when he talked about her Lolita name still seem to appear. Later in chapter 5 the narrator then starts to talks about nymphet. Meaning the type of girls he is attracted to which between the ages of nine and four. As I kept reading the thought of what if his mother never died would this grown man still having these feelings towards adolescence. If he would have grown up with the proper care and love would he still be the way he is now.

As the narrator who I now know name is Humbert continues, he reveals how he got married which was something I didn’t expect and didn’t like. The mind state the he was in he had no business getting married. When his wife confesses to having an affair it was definitely karma. But he then begins to show his anger, in which he wanted to kill her because of this act that she committed. the story plot is very good in my opinion but the text itself is horrible which gives me a harder time to understand.


This story struck me as a love story at first but later down the line it took a turn in the author’s life. So the narrator had witness a freak accident pertaining his mother and which leads my interpretation of why he hated older woman. Now I will discuss the first major point in this story who was Annabel a girl the narrator loved who was actually his first love. Later down I felt his whole lifestyle surrounded this girl image. So he couldn’t be with her so he refers back to that time as a nightmare summer in which he does not want to revisit that “fateful” day, now I will start the second major point which were nymphet but here is the narrator’s definition of that word “between the age limits of nine and fourteen the reoccur maidens who, to certain bewitched travelers, twice or many times older than they, reveal their true nature which is not human, but nymphic and these chosen creatures I propose to designate as”nymphets”(16). I had to quote him on that part since nymphets is used throughout the story and basically he describe them as a forbidden fruit. As I progress thought the story to which we(our era) seems like he is a pedophile but in his era these things were common among them. He was the type of person who creeps in parks to seek peeks so young girls which reminds him subconsciously of his love Annabel. Later on the narrator finds this girl Monique who was out of his age liking, he had dates but I found his transition after her surprising, which he calls her a “young whore”(23)because she would go around trapping older men to get money/expenses paid for. After realizing what she is he calls himself a pervert with starting to look up to a fictional character “Humbert”who lusts after young girls.The narrator had gotten married which later on reveals she leaves him without saying a word after that he seemed his mentally went back to the days of enjoying nymphets. I found it ironic on page 34 that they deemed him a homosexual.

Lolita 1-34

First of all this book definitely challenged my vocabulary! I can honestly say that there was not one page I didnt have to use a dictionary to look up a word.

Aside from that the text is really confusing mainly because of the fact that narrator jumps from one memory of a certain character to another in the first few pages. He did how ever introduce his father. His mother which he describes as photogenic, but died in a freak accident when he was only 3, he did also introduce other characters. But what confused me was when he mentioned the jury! I read it over and over again, and for some reason my understanding of when he says, “ladies and gentleman of the jury,…..”(1) is that he’s not literally talking with a jury, but to his reader? Please correct me if im wrong.

Annabel I believe is one of the most important characters, its because of her that i believe he is the way he is. He fell deeply and madly in love with her during his teenage years and unfortunately she passed away before he could make love to her. Its because of her tragedy that he sees what he sees in Lolita although the way he describes both of them is very interesting:

“There are two kinds of visual memory: one when you skillfully recreate an image in the laboratory of your mind, with your eyes open[…] and the other when you instantly evoke, with shut eyes, on the dark inner side of your eyelids, the objective, absolutely optical replica of a beloved face, a little ghost in natural colors (and this is how i see lolita)(3).

I found this interesting because he vividly paints lolita, but its because of annabel he feels this way he says “until at last, twenty four years later,  broke her spell by incarnating her in another”(4). So for him to describe annabel in “general terms” seemed kind of weird to me, because to me annabel and lolita seem as though they’re the same just two different people at different times of his life (the narrator/Humbert)

The whole time I read this one thing came to mind and this was, is age really just a number? It really caught my attention because of what the narrator said, ” I found myself maturing amid a civilization which allows a man  of twenty-five to court a girl of sixteen but not a girl of twelve” I don’t know about anyone else but in nyc you often see that; it doesnt necessarily mean its always the male who is the older one in the relationship. There are times when you see a older woman with a young man.

Interesting read, but confusing. One things for sure i will definitely expand my vocabulary!!

Lolita: The Beginning

The narrator has a huge interest in Lolita. These introductory pages explain how pure-hearted Lolita is and how she always get the narrator to stay positive. The narrator calls her the “light of his life” (9) which signifies her pure-heartedness. This suggests that Lolita has a positive influence on the narrator’s life.

The narrator may have had a bad life before he met Lolita which is partially proven in the text. One of the narrator’s negative impacts on his life is the loss of his mother at the age of three (10); losing a mother at this age is very tragic. However, on the contrary, the narrator, reminiscing his childhood, was raised as a “happy, healthy child” (2), leading him to have a positive life. Part of his positive attitude involves getting good grades and becoming friendly in school.

The narrator losing his mother is probably the only bad part about the narrator’s life, the other being Annabel’s apparent death (5). Annabel is a girl who bears a resemblance to Lolita. The narrator seems to like Annabel the same way he likes Lolita. Because of Annabel’s death, the narrator feels that Lolita is comforting him over this tragedy. Could Lolita be a reincarnation of Annabel? Is there any part of Annabel or Lolita that the narrator really likes?

Overall, the narrator seems to be an extremely happy person especially with Lolita supporting him. The only thing that supposedly destroyed his happiness is that someone he loves dies (his mother and Annabel). This could turn out to be an interesting story based on how Lolita plays a role on the narrator’s life.


Lolita – Part One: Sections 1-9

The first thing that I’m curious about in this novel is that the narrator is a guy named Humbert Humbert, but sometimes he talks about himself in the third person. For example, “She looked tremendously pleased with the bonus of fifty I gave her as she trotted out into the April night drizzle with Humbert Humbert lumbering in her narrow wake.” (23)  I feel that the narrator switches to third person whenever he is going to say something that he possibly regrets. I think this because he is writing the story in jail. Inference from, “You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style.” (9) and “I am writing under observation.” (10)

The narrator has a strong interest in girls. Even when he was young he fell in love with a girl named Annabel. The tragic thing is that she died because of typhus. From this first love, which was abruptly ended, the narrator probably got an image of the type of girls he would be attracted to based off of Annabel. WHich is why later in his life he likes young girls about twelve years old; though it seems he has never done anything sexual with them. He watches them on a park bench while pretending to read. (20)