So what’s it all about?
Nabokov secretly dedicated his novel « Lolita » to Lewis Carroll.
The riddle, all the puzzles, puns, portmanteau, anagrams, hidden references (and even literary devices (see below)) are « in honor » of the Victorian author that Nabokov – like many others – considered a nympholept, who was well-known to engage in such « games ».
Humbert and Lolita are a distorted image of Lewis Carroll and Alice Pleasance Liddell (with Quilty as a reflexion of John Ruskin).
Nabokov eventually made his intention known in cryptic allusions. He clearly stated in interviews that « Lolita » was a puzzle with a mirror effect.
A novel about a fictitious nympholept and his nymphet dedicated to the most well-known (harmless) nympholept and the most famous nymphet of literature (well… not everyone accept this version of things about Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (a.k.a. Lewis Carroll) but most do… with serious reasons).
What could be more logical in a novel about pedophilia than to point to the most famous and iconic case of literature?
Is there a definitive proof of the veracity of my theory?
To me the best evidence: When I realized that the characters (and locations, and also salliant elements) of « Alice in Wonderland » and « Through the Looking-glass » were to be found in the narrative of « Lolita » (a literary device borrowed to the « Pool of Tears« ‘s moment in « Alice in Wonderland »), I ended up trying to find a Red Knight (logically Quilty, a very distorted reflexion of John Ruskin) to oppose to the White Knight that is Humbert Humbert (a very distorted reflexion of Lewis Carroll) and searched for clues allowing for the clear identification. I stumbled upon Arthur Quiller-Couch (an author teaching literature in Cambridge when Nabokov was studying literature there (between 1919 and 1923 (1923 is also the year Vladimir Nabokov translated « Alice in Wonderland » in Russian)))… the initials of his lastname are Q.C., i.e. Clare Quilty’s initials as seen in a mirror (so to speak), his name starts with a Quil – like Quilty, his pen name was Q, like Quilty’s nickname, and he got a cornish bardic name (as a a Bard of Gorseth Kernow) that meant RED KNIGHT.
What are the odds of such a coincidence? That’s pretty simple: 0%. Impossible. It’s a statistical impossibility, it just can’t be a coincidence.
(If we add that Quiller-Couch started a retelling of the story “Tristram and Yseult” in a modern context (« Tristram » is an important reference in « Lolita« ), that he is also known to have completed Robert Louis Stevenson’s unfinished novel, “St. Ives” in 1898 (the year of death of Lewis Carroll) and that one of his most famous novel,“Troy Town” is from 1888 (“Troy Town” was also a ballad by Dante Gabriel Rossetti on a theme most famously treated in Tennyson‘s “Idylls of the King” – see the main page to see how revealing that is) then it’s simply crystal clear.)
Anyway, the global coherency and recurrent conjonctions (fitting with the author’s description (see the quotes below) of the nature of his work) exclude coincidences, especially since in many cases it explains effortlessly the strange elements of the story left in ambiguities, shadows and blurry images (e.g. the vague allusions to Mona and Roy, the strange allusion about Ilse Tristramson, the weird mistake of Humbert about Dante and Beatrice, etc…). Besides, the hints are truly everywhere for the careful perceptive reader to pick up (e.g. Mrs Vibrissa, Rita and her ensellure, Humbert (or more exactly, Nabokov) insisting overtly on « Catagela« , Dick Schiller « lumbering » in quest for beer with his friend, Blanche Schwarzman near the beginning mirrored by Melanie Weiss near the end (white/black | black/white), the omnipresence of reflections when Humbert enters the bedroom in « The Enchanted Hunters », the recurrence of words (e.g. « rose »), figures (e.g. « 52 » and « 342 »), etc… ) and semantic fields (e.g. archeology: « assyrian », « babylonian », « mycenaean », « laodicean », all the references to ancient greece, ancient egypt, ancient rome, and so on), etc…
I know that some people will have a hard time accepting such a theory, but it is not totally unexpected from Nabokov (who conceived and had published chess problems, published riddle book in the 1920s and hid an acrostics in the last part of his short story, « The Vane Sisters« , that explained (/shed a new light) the story), a playful author that saw himself as a master of deception (it should be rather obvious from his novels, his autobiography, his TV interviews and diverse other sources. He saw himself as a magician or a conjurer (of words), words that themselves regularly show up in his work)) who enjoyed fooling people (I suspect he particularly enjoyed fooling people from the literary set).
It should be rather obvious that in many of these books that there is a second layer of reading behind the story and words (particularly in « Lolita » in my opinion, where there were threads to pull everywhere. Many things should catch the eye of the careful perceptive reader).
And remember these words from the author himself:
In an interview in 1962 for the BBC when asked on why he wrote “Lolita”: « I’ve no general ideas to exploit, I just like composing riddles with elegant solutions.” – Vladimir Nabokov
Two years later, in an interview with Playboy in 1964, about the writing of « Lolita », he confessed « She was like the composition of a beautiful puzzle – its composition and its solution at the same time, since one is mirror view of the other, depending on the way you look.« .
« I don’t think that an artist should bother about his audience. His best audience is the person he sees in his shaving mirror every morning. I think that the audience an artist imagines, when he imagines that kind of a thing, is a room filled with people wearing his own mask. » – Vladimir Nabokov
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« All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident« . – Arthur Schopenhauer
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You can send me an e-mail here: jr_ReM_OvE_T_hIs_oxon@mail.com (remove the part between the first and last _ (well… actually, including the first and last « _ »); don’t get upset if I don’t reply quickly, I won’t check this e-mail adress frequently)
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