Study Guide

Lolita Love

By Vladimir Nabokov

Love

Book 1, Chapter 3
Humbert Humbert

All at once we were madly, clumsily, shamelessly, agonizingly in love with each other; hopelessly, I should add, because the frenzy of mutual possession might have been assuaged only by our actually imbibing and assimilating every particle of each other's soul and flesh. (1.3.3)

Humbert poetically describes his feelings for his first love, Annabel. His affection is almost like a desire to consume. This imagery will return with Lolita.

I broke her spell by incarnating her in another. (1.3.4)

Humbert often describes love in fairy tale terms. Lolita cures him of his thwarted love of his first nymphet.

Book 1, Chapter 15
Humbert Humbert

I knew that I had fallen in love with Lolita forever; but I also knew she would not forever be Lolita. (1.15.3)

Humbert expresses genuine feelings of love toward Lolita, which are often difficult to process given his treatment of her. As suggested here, however, the love seems contingent on Lolita being a nymphet. Does this turn out to be true?

Book 1, Chapter 16
Charlotte Haze

You see, there is no alternative. I have loved you from the minute I saw you. I am a passionate and lonely woman and you are the love of my life. (1.16.2)

Charlotte's impassioned letter to Humbert is received with disgust and delight. Though at first repulsed, Humbert manages to make her love of him part of his plan.

Book 1, Chapter 27
Lolita

"But we are lovers, aren't we?" (1.27.43)

Lolita reveals herself as far more precocious savvy than we or Humbert even knew. She knows they are lovers before Humbert even makes his first (sort of) real move. Do we believe this?

Book 2, Chapter 29
Humbert Humbert

"Lolita," I said, "this may be neither here nor there but I have to say it. Life is very short. From here to that old car you know so well there is a stretch of twenty, twenty-five paces. It is a very short walk. Make those twenty-five steps. Now. Right now. Come just as you are. And we shall live happily ever after." (2.29.68)

Humbert's last ditch effort to win Lolita back stirs feelings in the reader. Do we actually want her to leave Dick and return to Humbert? What's the deal?

and I looked and looked at her and knew clearly as I know I am to die, that I loved her more than anything I had ever seen or imagined on earth, or hoped for anywhere else. (2.29.67)

It is difficulty to reconcile Humbert's deep love of Lolita and his predatory ways. Do we believe him when he makes these claims? Does he love her or the idea of her?

He was the only man she had ever been crazy about […] And I had never counted, of course? (2.29.30)

Learning that Lolita actually loved Clare Quilty is deeply disturbing. How can this be? Humbert longs to know her feelings for him, even after so many years.

Book 2, Chapter 32
Humbert Humbert

I loved you. I was a pentapod monster, but I loved you. I was despicable and brutal, and turpid, and everything, mais je t'aimais, je t'aimais. (2.32:4)

Humbert writes a lot about loving Lolita. His expressions of love and expressions of guilt often go together. Why?

Book 2, Chapter 36
Humbert Humbert

But while the blood still throbs through my writing hand, you are still as much part of blessed matter as I am, and I can still talk to you from here to Alaska […] And this is the only immortality you and I may share, my Lolita. (2.36.7)

Nothing can ever really divide him from Lolita. Writing the book assures that, in a certain way, they will be together forever.