"Do You Mind Very Much Cutting Out The French?", Le français de Humbert dans Lolita de Vladimir Nabokov
Entry converted from: https://www.libraries.psu.edu/nabokov/biblol.htm
In Nabokov's Lolita, hardly a page goes by without a French word or a reference to French culture. Within the universe of the novel, this is not so surprising since Humbert Humbert, the narrator, was raised on the Riviera and is a semi-French belletrist. Yet Lolita is also Nabokov's most 'American'? novel. The second part, which was composed during rainy days while Nabokov was hunting for butterflies in the American West, reads as an homage to American life and landscapes. In Lolita, French and American culture constantly intermix and clash with each other. French infiltrates not only the narrator's vocabulary but also his syntax, whereas French classics constitute the main intertexts in the novel. This article thus aims at assessing the function of French language and culture in Lolita.