In the novel’s foreword, the fictional John Ray, Jr., Ph.D., explains the strange story that will follow. According to Ray, he received the manuscript, entitled Lolita, or the Confession of a WhiteWidowed Male, from the author’s lawyer. The author himself, known by the pseudonym of Humbert Humbert (or H. H.), died in jail of coronary thrombosis while awaiting a trial. Ray asserts that while theauthor’s actions are despicable, his writing remains beautiful and persuasive. He also indicates that the novel will become a favorite in psychiatric circles as well as encourage parents to raisebetter children in a better world.
In the manuscript, Humbert relates his peaceful upbringing on the Riviera, where he encounters his first love, the twelve-year-old Annabel Leigh. Annabel and thethirteen-year-old Humbert never consummate their love, and Annabel’s death from typhus four months later haunts Humbert. Although Humbert goes on to a career as a teacher of English literature, he spendstime in a mental institution and works a succession of odd jobs. Despite his marriage to an adult woman, which eventually fails, Humbert remains obsessed with sexually desirable and sexually awareyoung girls. These nymphets, as he calls them, remind him of Annabel, though he fails to find another like her. Eventually, Humbert comes to the United States and takes a room in the house of widowCharlotte Haze in a sleepy, suburban New England town. He becomes instantly infatuated with her twelve-year-old daughter Dolores, also known as Lolita. Humbert follows Lolita’s moves constantly,occasionally flirts with her, and confides his pedophiliac longings to a journal. Meanwhile, Charlotte Haze, whom Humbert loathes, has fallen in love with him. When Charlotte sends Lolita off to summer camp,Humbert marries Charlotte in order to stay near his true love. Humbert wants to be alone with Lolita and even toys with the idea of killing Charlotte, but he can’t go through with it. However,...
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