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Lolita, part 1, chapters 1-5 
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Post Lolita, part 1, chapters 1-5
Lolita, part 1, chapters 1-5

I'm going to create chapter threads for the whole book, in case we feel like discussing chapters as well as general themes.

I am using the organization given at sparknotes.com online.


Later: nowI realize that I should have entered the chapter headings in reverse order! :oops:


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Last edited by Ophelia on Tue Oct 07, 2008 12:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Tue Oct 07, 2008 12:17 pm
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Humbert is trying to hard to justify why he is obsessed with prepubescent girls. I understand that he is trying to tell us his story but it is really creepy on how he is going about it. It seems that Annabel is his reasoning for his "downfall". I think that is a poor excuse. But is it nature or nurture that makes Humbert what he is?


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Tue Oct 07, 2008 7:15 pm
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Raving Lunatic wrote:
But is it nature or nurture that makes Humbert what he is?

Interesting question. Part of me wondered if his hosipital stay for was ment to be indicitive of an illness, which he was perhaps born with (or something that was brought out by events in his life) that seperates him from others. The book mentioned 'melancholia' as being the reason... I'm sure that translates into depression by today's standards and people with depression generally don't think like Humbert.

I too think that the Annabelle thing is a poor excuse for his behaviour. I liked the introduction which spoke about entering the grotesque mind of somebody who most certainly is not normal. That's certainly true. But he does seem to be trying to recapture his experience with Annabelle.

PS- Ophelia, I like how you've set out this topic, in the different chapter sections. It makes it easier to discuss. Great work :up: [/title]



Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:31 am
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Quote:
Humbert is trying to hard to justify why he is obsessed with prepubescent girls. I understand that he is trying to tell us his story but it is really creepy on how he is going about it. It seems that Annabel is his reasoning for his "downfall". I think that is a poor excuse. But is it nature or nurture that makes Humbert what he is?


Yes, good question.
We've just had a few cases of famous pedophiles tried in France and from the little explaining that specialists gave on television, it may be the case that the attraction they feel to children started with something specific in their childhood. They will associate a specific age in a "partner" with intense happiness. It seems to me that they are mentally disturbed and not necessarily responsible for this urge they feel.
The next question then is: are they responsible for turning the urge into action? In most cases, definitely yes! I always think it's a joke when I hear of the state providing compulsory psychiatric treatment for those people. Most of them have no interest in being cured, and a lot of interest in further gratification of their pleasure.

What they do is particularly shocking because it happens to children, but it is the same principle that rules all criminal life, and a lot of actions that are never recognized as offences. I call it "I see, I want, I grab".
It may end up in theft, in business fraud, in rape. The idea is: this action is pleasurable to me, and I shall not deny myself the satisfaction of taking what I crave.
What they all have in common is lack of empathy, the inability to share the victim's suffering-- but then with criminals, this is nothing new.
The only reason the thief is better than the pedophile is that he has no interest in young children (not that he is a better person), and a lot of interest in material goods. Apart from this, they follow the same logic.


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Wed Oct 22, 2008 12:31 pm
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Bohemian Girl, I'm very glad you've joined this discussion, and thanks for your encouragements.

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The book mentioned 'melancholia' as being the reason... I'm sure that translates into depression by today's standards and people with depression generally don't think like Humbert.


Yes, this does sound like nonsense, his symptoms have nothing to do with depression.

I read somewhere that Nabokov felt no admiration for psychiatry-- or perhaps they said "psychoanalysis" only in the 1950's. The vague psychoanalytical explanations we read in Lolita come, I think, from the writer's dislike, and lack of understanding, of psychoanalysis. They always sound simplistic and unconvincing, which is what he meant them to sound like.
And honestly, if I'd been able to express a view of psychiatry in the 1950's, it wouldn't have been complimentary either-- Nabokow seems to suggest that doctors knew very little, which is the truth.


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Wed Oct 22, 2008 12:42 pm
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Ophelia wrote:
The only reason the thief is better than the pedophile is that he has no interest in young children (not that he is a better person), and a lot of interest in material goods. Apart from this, they follow the same logic.


Well said! I agree completley.



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What struck me was Humbert's differentiating between those girls he was attracted to and those he was not. Girl-child, nymphites, the demons, he referred to them as, trying to absolve his responsibilty for feeling desire for these young girls. It was their fault, they were not just ordinary children.

But, it did get me to thinking about this. I know that women, when they are ovulating give off a slight odour that can be very attractive to the opposite sex. Is there perhaps something given off by some young girls as their bodies go through the change from child to adult that makes them more sexually attractive? I thinking about this purely in a biological rather than moral sense, not that this would be any excuse.

Humbert's excuses are no different from the married man who has affairs and then blames the evil women for enticing him, manipulating him, or entrapping him. He is unable to take responsibility for self control for thought and desire.

But, as mentioned by previous posts, are his desires nature or nurture? His upbringing sounded like it did nothing for him learning self control and he learned much about taking what he wanted from life. His one early love perhaps was so overwhelming that his sexual yearnings were stuck in one place? A part of his brain was forever affixed to that desire and he could not move on from it?



Wed Nov 05, 2008 6:24 pm
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