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Lolita | Study Guide

Vladimir Nabokov

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Lolita | Quotes


Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate.

Humbert Humbert, Part 1, Chapter 1

By introducing us to the name "Lolita" in this physical way, Humbert begins to seduce his readers onto his side in his long campaign to make the readers/jury understand him.


In my arms she was always Lolita.

Humbert Humbert, Part 1, Chapter 1

Lolita was many things. As a child she was plain when she woke up. She was also a little girl in socks. But in Humbert's arms she became more than that—a partly imaginary, almost magical, sexual creature whom he named Lolita.


There occur maidens ... I ... designate as "nymphets."

Humbert Humbert, Part 1, Chapter 5

Humbert defines the kind of girl he is attracted to, identifies himself as "bewitched" (somewhat similar to "enchanted"), and suggests that Lolita and girls with that nymphet quality are not quite human but rather somehow evil secretly because they have the power to attract him and make him feel helpless under their spell. He calls this certain kind of girl of this age a "nymphet."


Lolita had been safely solipsized.

Humbert Humbert, Part 1, Chapter 13

Humbert has taken Lolita into himself such that she no longer exists as a person separate from himself. Humbert is a solipsist, based on the philosophy that one's own mind is the only sure thing in existence. As a solipsist he sees everything in reality, including all people but most especially Lolita, as pertaining to him, having no will or mind or self apart from him. Mostly in the novel readers see Lolita through Humbert's eyes.


You see, she had absolutely nowhere else to go.

Humbert Humbert, Part 1, Chapter 33

Lolita has just been told, rather brutally, by Humbert that her mother is dead. The last line underlines the fact that she is completely dependent on her stepfather, who is molesting her.


Our long journey ... no more to us than a collection of dog-eared maps ... and her sobs.

Humbert Humbert, Part 2, Chapter 3

As Humbert's road trip with Lolita draws to an end, her sobs indicate that the trip has not been the idyll of his imagination but a sordid affair in which Lolita has been a forced participant.


I see nothing for the treatment of my misery but the ... articulate art.

Humbert Humbert, Part 2, Chapter 31

This quotation can be seen as a time when Humbert realizes that he has taken Lolita's childhood away from her ("deprived of her childhood by a maniac"). But he still sees art as a way of soothing or helping himself—a melancholy and articulate art—perhaps the art of the novel Lolita.


I rolled over him. We rolled over me. They rolled over him. We rolled over us.

Humbert Humbert, Part 2, Chapter 35

In this quotation the differences between Humbert and Quilty disappear. They are not just brothers, as has been suggested before—they are one person engaged in an internal war.


The hopelessly poignant thing was ... the absence of her voice from that concord.

Humbert Humbert, Part 2, Chapter 36

Humbert hears the music of children's voices playing below him and realizes that even though he misses her, the really sad thing about her life is that she was not allowed (by him) to grow up in a normal way, playing with other children. Instead he destroys her childhood innocence through kidnapping and rape. The word concord has associations both with Thoreau and Emerson and with a sense of community.


The refuge of art. And this is the only immortality you and I may share, my Lolita.

Humbert Humbert, Part 2, Chapter 36

Humbert says that the only way to survive death is in art, and that he and Lolita may survive in the book he has written about her.

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