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Literature Study GuidesLolitaPart 1 Chapters 18 19 Summary

Lolita | Study Guide

Vladimir Nabokov

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Lolita | Part 1, Chapters 18–19 | Summary



Chapter 18

Humbert describes his quiet wedding and marriage to Charlotte in his typical sardonic, distanced, condescending tone. He lies to a reporter about their relationship and even about his own name. He covers his lies by telling Charlotte that society columns—like the one the announcement of their wedding is in—should contain errors. Charlotte tries to become more pleasing to him, and he imagines her at Lolita's age. Charlotte becomes interested in homemaking and Humbert meets her neighbors, noting that few of them like her. She has only two real friends. They are John and Jean Farlow, who have an attractive young niece; thinking about the Farlow's niece makes Humbert yearn for Lolita.

Chapter 19

Charlotte makes Humbert tell her about his past lovers; he makes some up to please her; she tells him about her husband and other men. Humbert imagines having a baby with Charlotte just so he can have time alone with Lolita when Charlotte is in the hospital giving birth. He is appalled at how much his new wife dislikes her daughter, Lolita.


Charlotte is romantic and eager to please her husband; aspects of her religiosity give him "the creeps" but he knows she will be easy to dupe. She happily works at becoming an ideal American housewife: she buys furniture and curtains and reads homemaking magazines. Throughout the novel Humbert refers critically to the movie or housekeeping or romance magazines that Lolita and her mother read. As a European aristocrat and an academic, he sees himself as being above these tawdry aspects of American culture.

Charlotte is so eager to believe in Humbert that she doesn't mind when he lies about their relationship, making up stories that he knows she will like: he calls himself Edgar H. Humbert, giving himself a new identity, as he will soon give Dolores—Lolita—a new identity and name. He tells a reporter that he has published many books, that he and Charlotte had known each other for several years, and that they had an affair many years ago. With this the reader learns how skillful a liar Humbert can be and how easily he pleases those he lies to.

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