Spoilers abound, but I believe everyone has finished Lolita. If you are ten pages away from the end, however, don’t read on!
I was pretty much on the edge of my seat for the last few chapters of this book, waiting to see how Lolita would manage to escape from Humbert. And then it was just done, so quickly, so quietly.
When she contacted him years later, I was shocked, to say the least. I thought the story could’ve gone a number of ways from there and was very scared for Lolita. However, I needn’t have been concerned and really the ending was anti-climatic.
There are notes by Nabokov at the end of the version I read and those were fascinating. He described how he and his wife would hunt butterflies in a variety of American locations, and he would sit and write more of Lolita in the evening and on cloudy days. Seriously?! He wrote Lolita in his spare time? Amazing. It was interesting to hear his thoughts on the book in his own words and tone.
Here are a few quotes and turns-of-phrases I loved:
“Somebody told me later that she had been in love with my father, and that he had lightheartedly taken advantage of it one rainy day and forgotten it by the time the weather cleared. “
“I switched to English literature, where so many frustrated poets end as pipe-smoking teachers in tweeds.”
“As I look back on those days, I see them divided tidily into ample light and narrow shade…”
“As greater authors than I have put it: ‘Let readers imagine’ etc. On second thought, I may as well give those imaginations a kick in the pants.”
“A poignant chaos was welling within me…”
“She said it so solemnly that it gave me the creeps.”
“Oh, she was very genteel.. called an envelope an ahnvelope…”
“A few words more about Mrs. Humbert while the going is good (a bad accident is about to happen quite soon.”
“Passionately I hoped to find preserved the portrait of the artist as a younger brute.” Loved the Joyce reference… Loved that I got the Joyce reference!
And, just for fun, here is a list of words used in the book that I had to look up: solecisms, cognomen, etiolated, platitudinous, capricious, lycee, plage, paroxysm, manqué, pastiches, coevals, Lepcha, preprandial.
And English was Nabokov’s second language!
It’s a Brave New World out there – keep reading!