Lolita as A Classic In Psychiatric Circles
The ‘artist’ responsible for the novel, Humbert Humbert, should provide a good basis upon which the main ethical questions of Lolita can be properly examined. “As a case history, “Lolita” will become, no doubt, a classic in psychiatric circles” (Lolita, 5) writes psychologist John Ray Jr. in the foreword, which should be taken with a grain of salt as “Nabokov’s quarrel with psychoanalysis is well-known” (325). Still, the psychological aspects of Humbert’s condition are the main building blocks on which the main ethical ingredients of the novel rest upon. “Did she have a precursor? She did, indeed she did. In point of fact, there might have been no Lolita at all had I not loved, one summer, a certain initial girl-child.”, writes Humbert in the very first chapter of his confession.
The placement of this statement is ingenious from Humbert: he installs the very common and even clichéd childhood trauma excuse right after a very physical and borderline explicit description of Lolita, the “fire” of Humbert’s “loins”, a child “standing four feet ten in one sock” (ibid.). Tracing the appearances of Annabel throughout the novel should quickly cast doubt on the reliability of Humbert’s reasoning. Their relationship transformed from being “madly, clumsily, shamelessly, agonizingly in love” (12) to referring to Annabel as “the other one”, after meeting Lolita.
The role of the ‘initial-girl child’ is quite clearly diminishing throughout the narrative: in the second part of the novel the name Annabel only appears three times. This gradual fading out of the past, the way Humbert conducts his life before meeting with Lolita, along with the differences between his relations to Annabel and Lolita points out the biggest ethical motif of the novel: Humbert Humbert’s solipsism. Solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one’s own mind is sure to exist. A solipsist believes that anything outside their own mind is uncertain: that the external world and other 10 minds cannot be proved to exist outside the solipsist’s mind. In a metaphysical framework,Lolita solipsism goes as far as claiming that the world and other minds only exist in their own consciousness. This position is claimed to be irrefutable, resulting in the solipsists’ claiming themselves to be the only authority, all others being creations of their own mind. The chapters depicting Humbert’s life between the loss of Annabel and meeting Lolita are indicators of the solipsistic nature of his character during the first part of the novel.
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The ‘artist’ responsible for the novel, Humbert Humbert, should provide a good basis upon which the main ethical questions of Lolita can be properly examined. “As a case history, “Lolita” […]