NABOKV-L post 0026552, Tue, 20 Oct 2015 21:18:26 -0200

RES: [NABOKV-L] RES: [NABOKV-L] [Query] Lolita's homelessness and

C.Kunin to JM: … And speaking of her given name, how did she come to be
called Lolita (which, granted, is a diminutive of a diminutive for Dolores)?

Jansy Mello: Refreshing my memories and sharing some:

Modern resources helped me to establish that the name Lolita is used 241
times in the novel. The “Haze woman,” her mother, sometimes refers to her
as “my Lo” ["That was my Lo," she said, "and these are my lilies."/"Yes," I
said, "yes. They are beautiful, beautiful, beautiful."]. I got the
impression (without searching for confirmation on articles and other
writings) that “Lolita” is wholly a creation by Humbert who often refers to
her as “my Lolita” and calls her Dolly when he is dissatisfied or angry and
as her “social persona”. Lolita is a nymphet’s name, distinct from the more
common nickname, Dolly.

From the start the designation “Lolita’ seldom appears in isolation: her
name erupts three or four times in a same paragraph all over the novel:
“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the
tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at
three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta./ She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning,
standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at
school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always
Lolita./Did she have a precursor? She did, indeed she did. In point of fact,
there might have been no Lolita at all had I not loved, one summer, a
certain initial girl-child. In a princedom by the sea. Oh when? About as
many years before Lolita was born as my age was that summer…”

Other samples: “A little later, of course, she, this nouvelle, this Lolita,
my Lolita, was to eclipse completely her prototype.” [ ]”And what is most
singular is that she, this Lolita, my Lolita, has individualized the
writer's ancient lust, so that above and over everything there is — Lolita.”

“I felt proud of myself. I had stolen the honey of a spasm without impairing
the morals of a minor… Lolita was safe — and I was safe. What I had madly
possessed was not she, but my own creation, another, fanciful Lolita —
perhaps, more real than Lolita; overlapping, encasing her; floating between
me and her, and having no will, no consciousness — indeed, no life of her

“I knew I had fallen in love with Lolita forever; but I also knew she would
not be forever Lolita… The word "forever" referred only to my own passion,
to the eternal Lolita as reflected in my blood. The Lolita whose iliac
crests had not yet flared, the Lolita that today I could touch and smell and
hear and see, the Lolita of the strident voice and rich brown hair… — that
Lolita, my Lolita, poor Catullus would lose forever.”

There is a short chapter (26) where her name is emphasized: “… Have written
more than a hundred pages and not got anywhere yet. My calendar is getting
confused. That must have been around August 15, 1947. Don't think I can go
on. Heart, head — everything. Lolita, Lolita, Lolita, Lolita, Lolita,
Lolita, Lolita, Lolita, Lolita, Lolita. Repeat till the page is full,
printer.” * In short, HH delights in the name Lolita like infants enjoy
blowing soap bubbles and adolescents write down the name of their loves. I
wonder if its iteration has other reasons besides the sensuous pleasures of
echolalia: As a letter, “L” is present in “sibling” and its qualities are
sung in RLSK’s velvets and lilies.

Contradicting my hypothesis about HH’s particular form of addressing
Dolores, Dolly as “his nymphic Lolita” we find Quilty exclaiming, in the
VN/Kubrick screenplay, long before HH and the child met:

“Quilty: (grinning ingenuously when he finally recognizes her) Yes, really
great fun. Listen, listen, din, din you have a dawda (daughter)? Din you
have a dawda with a lovely name? Yeah, a lovely, what was it now, a lovely
lyrical lilting name like, uh, uh...
Charlotte: Lo-li-ta.
Quilty: Lo-li-ta, that's right. Lolita. Diminutive of Dolores, the
tears and the roses.” #

Dolly could be counted 99 times (she is mentioned only once in VN’s
afterword). In the opening paragraph by HH: “She was Lo, plain Lo, in the
morning…She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on
the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.” Mentioned in a
social environment or with objective distancing: “ do I remember praising,
over cocktails, the picture she had made of a niece of hers, little Rosaline
Honeck… John removed his pipe and said it was a pity Dolly (my Dolita) and
Rosaline were so critical of each other at [ ] "I wish," interrupted Jean
with a laugh, "Dolly and Rosaline were spending the summer together…”

Lolita herself signed a note to her parents using Dolly: “Dear Mummy and
Hummy …Dolly” and, again, socially: “We feel Dolly is not doing as well"
etc. (from an old school report).” Or “At first, Dr. Byron did not seem to
believe me… He had a fascinating child of Dolly's age…” [ ] “The sun was
still a blinding red when he was put to bed in Dolly's room by his two
friends, gentle John and dewy-eyed Jean.” [ ] “I had a female cousin, a
respectable spinster in New York. There we would find a good private school
for Dolly. Oh, what a crafty Humbert!” [ ] “"John," cried Jean, "she is
his child, not Harold Haze's. Don't you understand? Humbert is Dolly's real
father." Maneuvering objective reality and the Law: “ I could not help
fancying that somehow Dolly Haze had been informed already, and that at the
very time I was on my way to fetch her, she was being driven to Ramsdale by
friends unknown to me. Still more disquieting than all these conjectures and
worries, was the fact that Humbert Humbert, a brand-new American citizen of
obscure European origin, had taken no steps toward becoming the legal
guardian of his dead wife's daughter (twelve years and seven months old).
Would I ever dare take those steps? I could not repress a shiver whenever I
imagined my nudity hemmed in by mysterious statutes in the merciless glare
of the Common Law.” [ ] “had to endure for several minutes the inquisitive
commiseration of the camp mistress, a sluttish worn out female with rusty
hair. Dolly she said was all packed and ready to go.” [ ] ‘a card produced
by efficient Holmes with a report of Dolly Haze's behavior.”**


# (Screenplay, 1962, Stanley Kubrick’s “Lolita”)

* Cynically: “There may have been times — there must have been times, if I
know my Humbert — when I had brought up for detached inspection the idea of
marrying a mature widow (say, Charlotte Haze) with not one relative left in
the wide gray world, merely in order to have my way with her child (Lo,
Lola, Lolita).”
Malignantly cunning: “We had highballs before turning in, and with their
help, I would manage to evoke the child while caressing the mother. This was
the white stomach within which my nymphet had been a little curved fish in
1934. This carefully dyed hair, so sterile to my sense of smell and touch,
acquired at certain lamplit moments in the poster bed the tinge, if not the
texture, of Lolita's curls. I kept telling myself, as I wielded my brand-new
large-as-life wife, that biologically this was the nearest I could get to
Lolita; that at Lolita's age, Lotte had been as desirable a schoolgirl as
her daughter was, and as Lolita's daughter would be some day. I had my wife
unearth …a thirty-year-old album, so that I might see how Lotte had looked
as a child; and even though the light was wrong and the dresses graceless, I
was able to make out a dim first version of Lolita's outline, legs,
cheekbones, bobbed nose. Lottelita, Lolitchen.” [ ] “Of my Lolita she
seldom spoke … And although I felt no special urge to supply the Humbert
line with a replica of Harold's production (Lolita, with an incestuous
thrill, I had grown to regard as my child), it occurred to me that a
prolonged confinement, with a nice Cesarean operation and other
complications in a safe maternity ward sometime next spring, would give me a
chance to be alone with my Lolita for weeks, perhaps …”
Here, too, we find the basest menace: "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. A nice grim matron of the Miss Phalen type, but more
rigid and not a drinking woman, will take away your lipstick and fancy
clothes. No more gadding about! I don't know if you have ever heard of the
laws relating to dependent, neglected, incorrigible and delinquent children.
While I stand gripping the bars, you, happy neglected child, will be given a
choice of various dwelling places, all more or less the same, the
correctional school, the reformatory, the juvenile detention home, or one of
those admirable girls' protectories where you knit things, and sing hymns,
and have rancid pancakes on Sundays. You will go there, Lolita — my Lolita,
this Lolita will leave plainer words, if we two are found out, you will be
analyzed and institutionalized, my pet, c'est tout. You will dwell, my
Lolita will dwell (come here, my brown flower) with thirty-nine other dopes
in a dirty dormitory (no, allow me, please) under the supervision of hideous
matrons. This is the situation, this is the choice. Don't you think that
under the circumstances Dolores Haze had better stick to her old man?"

More: “Speaking as if it really did not really matter, and assuming,
apparently, that life was automatically rolling on with all its routine
pleasures, Lolita said she would like to change into her bathing things, and
spend the rest of the afternoon at the swimming pool. It was a gorgeous day.
Lolita!” [ ]"Lo! Lola! Lolita!" I hear myself crying from a doorway into
the sun, with the acoustics of time, domed time, endowing my call and its
tell-tale hoarseness with such a wealth of anxiety, passion and pain that
really it would have been instrumental in wrenching open the zipper of her
nylon shroud had she been dead. Lolita! In the middle of a trim turfed
terrace I found her at last — she had run out before I was ready. Oh Lolita!
There she was playing with a damned dog, not me.” [ ] “ I will shout my
poor truth. I insist the world know how much I loved my Lolita, this Lolita,
pale and polluted, and big with another's child, but still gray-eyed, still
sooty-lashed, still auburn and almond, still Carmencita, still mine;
Changeons de vie, ma Carmen, allons vivre quelque part où nous ne serons
jamais séparés; Ohio? The wilds of Massachusetts? No matter, even if those
eyes of hers would fade to myopic fish, and her nipples swell and crack… my
Lolita.”[ ] “"Lolita," I said, "this may be neither here nor there but I
have to say it.” [ ] “…the man enveloped his lumpy and large offspring, I
saw Lolita's smile lose all its light and become a frozen little shadow of
itself… Avis who had such a wonderful fat pink dad and a small chubby
brother, and a brand-new baby sister, and a home, and two grinning dogs, and
Lolita had nothing. And I have a neat pendant to that little scene — also in
a Beardsley setting. Lolita, who had been reading near the fire, stretched
herself, and then inquired, her elbow up, with a grunt: "Where is she buried
anyway?" "Who?" "Oh, you know, my murdered mummy." "And you know where her
grave is," I said controlling myself, whereupon I named the cemetery — just
outside Ramsdale...”

** - other Dolly samples and different references: “My east-door neighbor
was by far the most dangerous one, a sharp-nosed stock character whose late
brother had been attached to the College as Superintendent of Buildings and
Grounds. I remember her waylaying Dolly, while I stood at the living room
window… and Dolly, her brown coat open despite the raw weather…and a few
days later there came from her a note in a blue-margined envelope, a nice
mixture of poison and treacle, suggesting Dolly come over on a Sunday[ ]
Dolly got lunch at school [ ] Taking Dolly to the dentist — pretty nurse
beaming at her — old magazines — ne montrez pas vos zhambes. At dinner with
Dolly in town, Mr. Edgar H. Humbert was seen eating his steak[ ]. Brightly
pajamaed, jerking down the window shade in Dolly's bedroom[ ]. Seen and
heard Sunday morning, no churchgoer after all, saying don't be too late, to
Dolly who is bound for the covered court. [ ] With Linda Hall the school
tennis champion, Dolly played singles ...”[ ] “in December I think, Pratt
asked me to come over for a talk. Dolly's last report had been poor, I
knew.” [ ] “ ‘Dolly Haze,’ she said, ‘is a lovely child, but the onset of
sexual maturing seems to give her trouble’." [ ] “Miss Cormorant cannot
decide whether Dolly has exceptional emotional control or none at all. Miss
Horn reports she — I mean, Dolly — cannot verbalize her emotions

[ ]"What worries me," said Miss Pratt looking at her watch and starting to
go over the whole subject again, "is that both teachers and schoolmates find
Dolly antagonistic, dissatisfied, cagey — and everybody wonders why you are
so firmly opposed to all the natural recreations of a normal child." [ ]
“Dolly-Lo, however, lagged behind, in a rosy daze, her pleased eyes
narrowed” [ ] I forget my letters; as to Dolly's, there was her report and
a very special-looking envelope. …"Dolly-Lo: Well, the play was a grand
success. [ ] A bright voice informed me that yes, everything was fine, my
daughter had checked out the day before, around two, her uncle, Mr. Gustave,
had called for her with a cocker spaniel pup and a smile for everyone, and a
black Caddy Lack, and had paid Dolly's bill in cash, and told them to tell
me I should not worry, and keep warm, they were at Grandpa's ranch as
agreed.[ ] “Dear Dad:/ How's everything? I'm married. I'm going to have a
baby…Yours expecting,/Dolly (Mrs. Richard F. Schiller).”[ ] "Think it over,
Lolita. There are no strings attached. Except, perhaps — well, no matter."
(A reprieve, I wanted to say but did not.) "Anyway, if you refuse you will
still get your... trousseau."/ "No kidding?" asked Dolly.” [ ] “I loved
you. I was a pentapod monster, but I loved you. I was despicable and brutal,
and turpid, and everything, mais je t'aimais, je t'aimais! And there were
times when I knew how you felt, and it was hell to know it, my little one.
Lolita girl, brave Dolly Schiller. [ ] "Quilty," I said, "do you recall a
little girl called Dolores Haze, Dolly Haze? Dolly called Dolores, Colo.?”

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