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Lolita and the Language of Love

            What can we intuitively learn about the taboo subjects of incest and pedophilia when such a tale is told by Humbert Humbert, the narrator of Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita? This "maniac's masterpiece- (257) evolves from an abhorrent, debauched tale of perversion into a witty, tragic love story precisely because Humbert tells it so convincingly. He is a true maniac, fueled by lust, petty jealousy and murderous actions. Although he denies he is a poet (72), Nabokov's literary creation speaks the language of longing and lust so perfectly that it's impossible by confession's end for the reader to deny the power of Humbert's voice.
             From the opening sentence, with his ruminations on the name of his beloved, Humbert Humbert dives into his biography to persuade the reader that there are justifiable reasons for his doomed love affair with Lolita. He tells us that "You have to be an artist and a madman, a creature of infinite melancholy- in order to see "the little deadly demon among the wholesome children- (17). It is in his own adolescence where Humbert's first sexual encounter with Annabel ("no nymphet- to him) begins the journey of his obsession (17). Annabel's death at a young age, in a novel where almost every character we meet has an early demise, propels his cravings. It is their "premature love, marked by a fierceness that so often destroys adult lives- that blossoms into an early defense of his poisonous love for young girls (18). .
             Humbert pleads to the reader throughout the story that he "tried to be good- and he intelligently crafts his words through persuasive and/or humorous examples of his illegal love (19). He takes his own name and spins it devilishly throughout the novel, i.e. "Humbertish- (35), "Humbert the Hummer- (57) and "Humberland- (166), creating a unique, absorbing texture to his self-deprecating narrative. The two forces of "desire and decision- (71) that form the basis of his world are constantly upended by his imaginary devil, the Americanized doppelgãnger, Aubrey McFate (56).

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