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Lolita, “The most mythopoeic nymphet”

Abstract : Humbert's "most mythopoeic nymphet" (Lolita 186) belongs to Nabokov's mythological system: from the beginning of his narrator's Confession, he made him utter "by word of mouth" (Cuddon 408) a story whose opening word was the heroine's name almost chanted like a magic formula as if to give her shape and life. He managed to create this life-impression so well that Lolita seems to be deeply rooted in reality, hence the confusion between representation and reality which many critics started and encouraged, to finally engage in waging a moral war against the publication of such an indecent book written by such a dirty old pervert. But like all great myths, Lolita survived. I decided to dwell on the mythical dimension of this fictional figure to explain how it became a paradigm, and my demonstration will rest on the following proposition: in order to satisfy his pathological obsessions and fantasies, Humbert fabricates in his fancy a perverted being, Lolita, based on the portrait of a rather commonplace American teenager, Dolly Haze. Lolita has almost all the characteristics of a mythical figure since, in many respects, she belongs to a supernatural, or at least "supra-human" world, and her love story with Humbert is not meant to ring "true," despite what all moralizers pretended. Moreover, Humbert's narrative is largely concerned with explanations about how Lolita came to exist, which recalls the way myths, which are always concerned with creation, are made up. So what type of mythical figure is represented in Nabokov's Lolita?
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Contributor : Christine Raguet Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Sunday, December 26, 2010 - 8:19:03 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, October 27, 2021 - 2:41:41 PM


  • HAL Id : halshs-00550292, version 1


Christine Raguet. Lolita, “The most mythopoeic nymphet”. Didier Machu & Taïna Tuhkunen. Lolita, Ellipses, pp.15-28, 2009. ⟨halshs-00550292⟩



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