Saturday, November 18, 2006

Lolita: Life Slavishly Imitating Art

'It is known,' the BBC tells me, 'that predatory paedophiles often befriend single mothers as a way of gaining access to their children.' To prevent this happening, such women may be given access to lists of sex offenders. Had this service been available to Charlotte Haze, would she have checked on Humbert Humbert? It is indefinably unnerving to discover that the plot of Nabokov's Lolita is such a commonplace real world event that we can actually make laws to stop it.


  1. I knew someone once to whom this happened. She was a divorcee, in her 40s, with a youngish son. A handsome man about fifteen years her junior began to woo her. She was thrilled that he liked her son so much, too. In fact, he preferred the three of them doing things together to his just going out with her.

    She did not understand what else was happening until her son ran away from home. And then, ten years later, she wrote a memoir about this in a class I was teaching.

    My favorite line in _Lolita_ remains the one describing the hair in the shape of a question mark that Humbert Humbert sees in Mrs. Haze's bathtub. What an image! Obviously, because I have never forgotten it, yet I am hardly Funes the Memorious.

  2. How, Susan, could one forget Lolita. There's a sentence beginning, 'I looked and looked at her...'