[sexual abuse tw, rape tw]
inconsistent font choices: the powerpoint
long story short,
- in the event that you do read “lolita”
- read the foreword
- and the afterword
- consider context and intent
- get the annotated version if u want
- and pay attention to the text.
There’s an episode in the first or second season of SVU where Dolores murders HH’s creepy ass. Yes good.
Also read the foreword because it’s where the resolution of the plot actually punches you in the gut.
i don’t tend to read forewords because i don’t want to start a book with someone else’s feelings about a book, but i guess i’ll do that o_o
mind you i’m not 100% confident i actually FINISHED lolita? like the last thing i remember is her being pregnant and humbert being all “she looks too grown up my boner is wilting :(“
i have genuinely used people’s feelings about lolita as a barometer for whether i want to have anything to do with them like:
DO YOU THINK HUMBERT HUMBERT IS A CREEPY PEDO RAPIST AND THAT WHAT HE DID WAS UNJUSTIFIED AND UNJUSTIFIABLE? PLEASE SELECT FROM THE FOLLOWING:
- FUCK YES
- I AM NOT WELCOME IN YOUR HOUSE SO I’M GOING TO AWKWARDLY LEAVE NOW
The foreword isn’t actually a foreword to the novel, it’s a foreword to Humbert’s ‘memoir’ — it’s part of the story, and tells you what happens to the characters later, if you read it carefully and take into account the last scenes of Humbert’s stuff which is, yes, the pregnancy bit. Pay attention to names and to publication stipulations in both sections.
OH MY GOD YES. I have talked to so many clueless dickwattles who think that Humbert was seduced by Lo, and all I offer them in response is this quote:
“There was the day, during our first trip- our first circle of paradise- when in order to enjoy my phantasms in peace I firmly decided to ignore what I could not help perceiving, the fact that I was to her not a boy friend, not a glamour man, not a pal, not even a person at all, but just two eyes and a foot of engorged brawn- to mention only mentionable matters. There was the day when having withdrawn the functional promise I had made her on the eve (whatever she had set her funny little heart on- a roller rink with some special plastic floor or a movie matinee to which she wanted to go alone), I happened to glimpse from the bathroom, through a chance combination of mirror aslant and door ajar, a look on her face… that look I cannot exactly describe… an expression of helplessness so perfect that it seemed to grade into one of rather comfortable inanity just because this was the very limit of injustice and frustration- and every limit presupposes something beyond it- hence the neutral illumination.”
It’s cloaked in Humbert’s self-obsessed bullshit, as usual, but it’s there. He knows exactly what he’s doing to her. He knows he is hurting her, that she is miserable, that she’s gone beyond the point of being able to process what’s happening to her, and can only try to negotiate some kind of reward or compensation for the fact that she’s being kidnapped and raped by her stepfather. Yeah, Humbert buys her dresses and takes her places, and yes, Lo demands those things in exchange for sexual favours. Because she is twelve, and she cannot get away from him, and she knows that. What else can she fucking do?
That one passage affected me more than any other in the book. She is not seducing him. He is not her lover. She is fucking trapped.
this is a great response and analysis and i want to add some more stuff from the book that shows lo’s sexual abuse
there’s a part at the end of chapter one where humbert first kidnaps dolores and then she learns of her mother’s death, and it’s a very illuminating chapter, and very, incredibly sad:
“At the hotel we had separate rooms, but in the middle of the night she came sobbing into mine, and we made it up very gently. You see, she had absolutely nowhere else to go.”
that line is a really illuminating part of dolores’ character, in my opinion. dolores doesn’t stay with him because she loves him or even likes him; she just does because she literally has nowhere to go. she has no parents or guardians or caregivers apart from hh at this point. there’s another point where he tries to manipulate her into not running away from him by saying that she’d end up in a worse situation:
“Finally, let us see what happens if you, a minor, accused of having impaired the morals of an adult in a respectable inn, what happens if you complain to the police of my having kidnapped and raped you? Let us suppose they believe you. A minor female, who allows a person over twenty-one to know her carnally, involves her victim into statutory rape, or second-degree sodomy, depending on the technique; and the maximum penalty is ten years. So I go to jail. Okay. I go to jail. But what happens to you, my orphan? Well, you are luckier. You become the ward of the Department of Public Welfare—which I am afraid sounds a little bleak. … I don’t know if you have ever heard of the laws relating to dependent, neglected, incorrigible and delinquent children. … In plainer words, if we two are found out, you will be analyzed and institutionalized, my pet, c’est tout. … Don’t you think that under the circumstances Dolores Haze had better stick to her old man?”
after humbert first rapes her, he describes it in this way:
“More and more uncomfortable did Humbert feel. It was something quite special, that feeling: an oppressive, hideous constraint as if I were sitting with the small ghost of somebody I had just killed.”
and dolores flat-out SAYS he rapes her, but humbert dismisses it as her ‘joking’:
“You chump,’ she said, sweetly smiling at me. ‘You revolting creature. I was a daisy-fresh girl, and look what you’ve done to me. I ought to call the police and tell them you raped me. Oh, you dirty, dirty old man.’ Was she just joking? An ominous hysterical note rang through her silly words. Presently, making a sizzling sound with her lips, she started complaining of pains, said she could not sit, said I had torn something inside her.”
and on and on; i have even more quotes i could dig up, but suffice to say anyone who says this book isn’t about sexual abuse and rape is a fucking idiot
Yessss. I actually forgot about the “she had nowhere else to go” quote.