The first drawing ever made by an animal was the sketch of the bars of his cage, and though Humbert Humbert’s confession is not the first that has ever been made by mankind, neither the first made by an obsessed man, it is still a very interesting sketch of humankind. Awaiting his trial in his prison cell, Nabokov’s narrator, Humbert Humbert recounts the story of his crime and his obsession with Lolita, a 12 year-old ‘nymphet’. Nabokov claims that the initial idea for his story came from a newspaper report about the monkey’s sketch and his depiction of Humbert Humbert’s not only physical but mental confinement is masterful. Humbert Humbert is a literature professor, and is charmed by ‘nymphets’, little girls, of a certain quality ever since he got to know Annabel in his childhood. In his late thirties he finally finds Lolita, the perfect nymphet, the successor of little Annabel. As his narration progresses, his compulsion grows and by the end of the story he even questions his own sanity. The story works on many levels, and can possibly interest a great number of readers. Firstly, it can be considered as the maunderings of a crazy pedophile, a pornographic novel, as it has been regarded initially by many publishers and readers in the fifities. On another level, the novel is a beautiful love story, an old man’s love for a beautiful girl, as Humbert Humbert considers his story.
He often refers to great artists, who have loved young girls as well, especially to Poe. The novel is also beautiful linguistically, as already the first words prepare the reader, it is not something commonplace:’Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tounge taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth.’ Many certainly read and reread the novel for the sheer pleasure its language gives, in which we can find something new every time. Lastly, Lolita is also a detective novel, the reader does not know Humbert Humbert’s victim and though the narrator naturally already knows it, he presents the story from a fresh perspective as he has lived through it, so on this level, the book is a gripping detective story, retracing the steps and obsession of the narrator.Altogether, the novel should certainly not be regarded as pornographic, it is an excellent depiction of a man’s mind, singular in modern literature.