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by Vladimir Nabokov

Lolita Morality and Ethics Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Book.Chapter.Paragraph)

Quote #1

If, however, for this paradoxical prude's comfort, an editor attempted to dilute or omit scenes that a certain type of mind might call "aphrodisiac" […], one would have to forego the publication of "Lolita" altogether, since those very scenes that one might ineptly accuse of a sensuous existence of their own, are the most strictly functional ones in the development of a tragic tale tending unswervingly to nothing less than a moral apotheosis. (Fore.4)

The person introducing Lolita to us has certain ideas he wants to express. He wants to prepare the reader for what we would call "adult content." Don't be aroused by the material or assume that it is there for gratuitous reasons: they had to include it for moral reasons.

Quote #2

No doubt ["H.H."] is horrible, he is abject, he is a shining example of moral leprosy, a mixture of ferocity and jocularity that betrays supreme misery perhaps, but is not conducive to attractiveness. (Fore.5)

The author in the introduction is really into the whole moral lesson of the novel. He also misreads Humbert in many ways. Reread this Foreword when you finish the novel.

Quote #3

When I try to analyze my own cravings, motives, actions and so forth, I surrender to a sport of retrospective imagination which feeds the analytic faculty with boundless alternatives and causes each visualized route to fork and re-fork without end in the maddeningly complex project of my past. (1.4.1)

OK, a lot of big words in here. Humbert really wants to turn the novel into an exercise of reflection, but it isn't easy.

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