by Vladimir Nabokov
Imagery: The Enchanted Hunter
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
This phrase comes up many times during the course of the novel, and often in highly suggestive variations, such as "The Hunted Enchanters." It is first mentioned by Charlotte, who proposes that she and Humbert have a romantic little getaway at a hotel by that name. Most importantly, The Enchanted Hunters is the name of the hotel where Humbert and Lolita first have sex. Later, Clare Quilty names his play The Enchanted Hunter and clever Humbert doesn't make the connection – remember that man who speaks to him about Lolita on the dark porch of hotel? Quilty, gathering material. Humbert admits that he thought the name of the hotel and the name of the play was a coincidence.
The phrase echoes some of the meanings of "nymphet" because it implies that the one who hunts is "enchanted," almost under the spell of the girl being hunted. The hunter is drawn as if by a supernatural power that cannot be helped or hindered. Despite this connotation, the object of the hunt is clearly Lolita. Along these lines, Humbert often characterizes himself as a predator – like a spider or a monster, at one point saying that he prefers his prey to be moving rather than motionless. Clare Quilty is another of Lolita's hunters, following Humbert and Lolita around the country and finally snatching her up in Elphinstone.