LOLITA ANALYSIS - PART SEVEN

Go to Table of Contents of the analysis (which has also a statement on purpose and manner of analysis and a disclaimer as to caveat emptor and my knowing anything authoritatively, which I do not, but I do try to not know earnestly, with some discretion, and considerable thought).

The most important thing which must be kept in mind with Kubrick's films is there is the surface or principle story and then the internal or sub-story. In many of his films, if we're really paying attention, set elements pretty much immediately destroy the surface naturalism. One may not notice this destruction the first, second or third time one watches the film. Through constructive disorientation and disconnectedness, and sleight of hand as to where our eye focuses, Kubrick, the magician, intentionally obfuscates these elements that destroy the overt and naturalistic story line. The surface story lines are the principle ones, and this is maintained and supported by the intentional obfuscation of the deconstructive elements which keep them sub rosa. At the same time, these deconstructive elements are plainly there, alongside his tremendous effort to make things look real and believable, and once we bypass the disorientation and his purposeful refocusing they become a puzzle, annihilating the sense of reality. This destruction of the film's naturalistic story line is difficult enough to conceive of and accept that most people stop at this point and decide these puzzling aspects of Kubrick's films are errors when they are not. They are part of the art of a director cleverly designing the overt story line to be unimpeded by an internal story that tears it apart. Indeed, the sub rosa elements of the internal story may be discreet but they are enough in evidence to complicate the surface story with an aura of attractive, indefinable mystery, which is one of the reasons viewers return to Kubrick again and again. To work with the "reason" and "why of the internal story line is to try to settle into Kubrick's sensibility, examining how these internal stories form a dialogue in his oeuvre with repeating themes and ideas, elaborated upon from film to film. The internal stories haven't a "plot"; they aren't that kind of story. Instead, you have to be willing to deal with comprehending the themes and ideas represented in them as instead ultimately forming a different terrain for the setting of the surface story, guiding and interacting with the overt story and giving it a new form.


A NOTE ON THIS ANALYSIS. I COMPARE, SCENE BY SCENE, AT THE END OF EACH, KUBRICK'S FILM WITH Nabokov'S SCREENPLAY. I HAVE ALSO UNDERLINED THAT DIALOGUE WHICH IS FROM THE Nabokov SCREENPLAY BUT WHICH IS USUALLY PARAPHRASED. DIALOGUE IN THE FILM WHICH WAS IN THE BOOK, BUT NOT IN THE SCREENPLAY, MAY BE UNDERLINED BUT IS OFTEN INSTEAD OUTLINED IN THE COMPARISON SECTION OF EACH SCENE.


PART SEVEN

THE LETTER

463 CU Typewriter. (2:07:30)

THE LETTER (dated March 19th): Dear dad. How are you doing? I have gone through much sadness and hardship. I'm married. I'm going to have a baby. I'm going nuts because we don't have enough money to pay our debts and get out of here. Please send us a check.

Fade to black.

Lolita

THROUGH CITY STREETS, TOWARDS MRS. SCHILLER

464 LS of downtown city street. (2:18:44)

465 LS Wagon, from the rear, traveling through a city neighborhood. (2:18:49)

466 LS from above of the wagon passing a junkyard. (2:18:59)

467 LS The wagon travels toward us down a city street away from a river. (2:19:10)

468 LS The wagon rounds a corner and parks. (2:10:13)

469 MS of Humbert pulling a gun out of the glove compartment and putting it in his pocket. (2:19:22)

470 LS Humbert exiting the car. (2:19:33)

471 MLS Humbert approaching the gate. (2:19:42)

We see Richard T. Schiller on the mailbox.

472 LS Humbert approaches the front door, 720 the house number above it. (2:19:47)

473 CU Humbert. (2:20:00)

Shot 464

Shot 465

Shot 466

Shot 467

Shot 468

Shot 469

Shot 470

Shot 471

Shot 472

Shot 473

LOCATIONS

Part of the drive to the Schiller household takes us to about 35 Partition Str. in Rensselaer NY, looking back over the Hudson River to the SUNY administration building in Albany which used to be the Delaware and Hudson Railroad building. Below is the location for shot 467. It is easily identified by the first building on the left.

Lolita

The Schiller House is on Grover Road in Watford, Hertfordshire.

Lolita

Lolita

I'm fairly amused by shot 472 being the one in which we get the close look of the Schiller door and its number which is 720. A reason I'm amused is that 4 is the number of D which is daleth, door. Perhaps purely coincidence here.

MRS. DICK SCHILLER

474 MCU Lolita. (2:20:03)

LOLITA: Well, gee, what a surprise!

475 CU Humbert. (2:20:07)

HUMBERT: So, this is what Mrs. Richard T. Schiller looks like

476 MCU Lolita. (2:20:13)

LOLITA: I'm afraid you'll have to excuse my appearance, but you've caught me on ironing day.

477 CU Humbert. (2:20:18)

478 MCU Lolita. (2:20:20)

LOLITA: Oh, but do come in.

Shot 474

Shot 475

Shot 476

Shot 477

Shot 478

Shot 479

479 MLS Humbert entering. (2:20:21)

LOLITA: You're looking marvelous! Can I take your coat?

HUMBERT: No, I'd rather keep it.

LOLITA: I wrote to you about a week ago. I was beginning to think you were sore or something. I must say I wouldn't blame you if you were.

Lolita

A reather eerie reverberation effect now enters her voice briefly that makes the scene even more surreal and theatrical.

LOLITA: A fine thing me dropping out of sight for so long and then writing you for a handout. Would you like a cup of coffee?

HUMBERT: No, thank you...

LOLITA: Or a drink, maybe?

HUMBERT: No.

LOLITA (bending over and putting down the basket): I won't be able to do that in another month.

Lolita

HUMBERT: Is that him? The one facing us.

LOLITA: Yes, that's Dick. He doesn't know a thing about you and me, so please watch what you say.

HUMBERT: That's ridiculous! You don't expect me to believe that, do you?

LOLITA: Why not? You don't think I'd tell him, do you?

HUMBERT: Who does he think that I am?

LOLITA: My stepfather!

HUMBERT: Then this isn't the man who took you from the hospital?

LOLITA: No, of course not!

480 MS Humbert and Lolita. (2:21:21)

Lolita

HUMBERT: How long have you known him?

LOLITA: About a year. I met him in Phoenix. I was working as a waitress.

HUMBERT: Who is the man...

481 Lolita from behind Humbert. (2:21:29)

HUMBERT: ...that I'm looking for?

LOLITA: There's no point in going into that. It's all over.

HUMBERT: Lolita, I have to know.

LOLITA: Well, I'm sorry, but I can't tell you.

482 MS Humbert. (2:21:38)

HUMBERT: Look,Lolita, I have a perfect right to know this.

483 MLS Lolita. (2:21:43)

LOLITA: Oh, crimeny! I should never have written to you.

484 MLS Humbert sitting next to Lolita. (2:21:47)

HUMBERT: You wouldn't have written to me if you hadn't needed the money. Now, if you're a sensible girl, and if you want what I've come to give you, you'll tell me what I want to know.

485 MLS Lolita standing. (2:21:58)

LOLITA: Do you remember Dr. Zemph?

486 MLS Humbert. (2:22:06)

HUMBERT: Dr. Zemph?

LOLITA: That German psychologist that came to see you at Beardsley.

HUMBERT: Was it him?

487 MS Lolita. (2:22:13)

LOLITA: Not exactly.

HUMBERT: I didn't come here to play guessing games. Tell me who it was.

LOLITA (moving to wash out a cup in the sink): Well, give me a chance to explain.

HUMBERT: All right.

LOLITA (pouring a cup of coffee): Do you remember that car that used to follow us around?

488 MLS Humbert. (2:22:50)

HUMBERT: The night you disappeared? Yes, I remember him very well.

491 MLS Lolita. (2:22:56)

LOLITA: And yet, you still haven't guessed?

492 MLS Humbert. (2:22:59)

HUMBERT: I told you that I'm not playing games with you. Tell me who it was.

Shot 481

Shot 482

Shot 483

Shot 484

Shot 485

Shot 486

Shot 487

Shot 488

Shot 489

Shot 490

Shot 491

Shot 492

493 MLS Lolita. (2:23:04)

LOLITA: It was Clare Quilty.

494 MLS Humbert. (2:23:09)

HUMBERT: Who was Clare Quilty?

495 MLS Lolita. (2:23:11)

LOLITA: All of them, of course.

496 MLS Humbert. (2:23:13)

HUMBERT: You mean, Dr. Zemph, he was Clare Quilty?

LOLITA: Well, congratulations.

497 MS Lolita and Humbert. (2:23:17)

LOLITA: I don't suppose it ever occurred to you that when you moved into our house my whole world didn't revolve around you. You see, I'd had a crush on him ever since the times that he used to come and visit Mother. He wasn't like you and me. He wasn't a normal person. He was a genius.

498 MCU Lolita. (2:23:38)

LOLITA: He had a kind of uh beautiful Japanese oriental philosophy of life.

499 MS Lolita and Humbert. (2:23:47)

LOLITA: You know that hotel we stopped at on the way back from camp? It was just by accident that he was staying there, but it didn't take him long to figure out what was going on between us. And from that moment on he was up to every trick he could think of.

500 MCU Humbert. (2:23:59)

HUMBERT: And he did all these brilliant tricks for the sheer fun of tormenting me?

501 MCU Lolita. (2:24:03)

LOLITA: Well, sometimes he had to, like the German psychologist bit. He had to trick you into letting me be in his play otherwise how would I ever...

502 MCU Humbert. (2:24:13)

LOLITA: ...get to see him?

HUMBERT: So that's why you wanted to be in the play?

503 MCU Lolita. (2:24:15)

LOLITA: That's right.

504 MCU Humbert. (2:24:19)

HUMBERT: And all those afternoons you were supposed to be practicing the piano, you were actually with this man?

505 MCU Lolita. (2:24:21)

LOLITA: I guess he was the only guy I was ever really crazy about.

506 MCU Humbert. (2:24:26)

HUMBERT: Aren't you forgetting something?

Shot 493

Shot 494

Shot 495

Shot 496

Shot 497

Shot 498

Shot 499

Shot 500

Shot 501

Shot 502

Shot 503

Shot 504

Shot 505

Shot 506

507 MLS Lolita. (2:24:30)

LOLITA: Oh, Dick. Dick's very sweet. We're very happy together, but I guess it's just not the same thing.

508 MLS Humbert from behind Lolita. (2:24:40)

HUMBERT: And I? I suppose I never counted, of course.

LOLITA: You have no right to say that. After all, the past is the past.

HUMBERT: What happened to this Oriental-minded genius?

509 MS Lolita. (2:24:57)

LOLITA: Look, don't make fun of me. I don't have to tell you a blasted thing.

510 MCU Humbert. (2:25:02)

HUMBERT: I'm not making fun of you. I'm merely trying to find out what happened. When you left the hospital, where did he take you?

511 MS Lolita. (2:25:07)

LOLITA: To New Mexico.

HUMBERT: Whereabouts in New Mexico?

LOLITA: To a dude ranch near Santa Fe.

512 MCU Humbert. (2:25:12)

LOLITA: The only problem with it was, he had a bunch of weird friends staying there.

HUMBERT: What kind of weird friends?

LOLITA: Weird...

513 MLS Lolita from behind Humbert. (2:25:22)

LOLITA: ...painters, nudists, writers, weight-lifters. I figured I could take anything...

514 MLS Humbert from behind Lolita. (2:25:25)

LOLITA: ...for a few weeks 'cause I loved him and he was on his way to Hollywood to write one of those spectaculars, and he promised to get me a studio contract...

515 MS Lolita. (2:25:34)

LOLITA: ...but it never turned out that way and instead he wanted me to cooperate with the others making some kind of a, you know, an art movie.

516 MLS Humbert from behind Lolita. (2:25:41)

HUMBERT: An art movie!

LOLITA: Yeah.

HUMBERT: And you did it?

LOLITA: No, I didn't do it. So he kicked me out.

HUMBERT: You could have come back to me.

Shot 507

Shot 508

Shot 509

Shot 510

Shot 511

Shot 512

Shot 513

Shot 514

Shot 515

Shot 516

517 MS Lolita. (2:25:57)

518 MLS Humbert and Lolita. (2:25:58)

A knock on the window and Dick and Bill enter.

DICK: Oh, excuse me, sweetheart, Bill's cut his thumb.

BILL: It's just a scratch.

LOLITA: Dick, this is my stepfather, Professor Humbert.

DICK (shaking hands): Oh, how do you do, Professor?

HUMBERT: How do you do?

LOLITA: This is our neighbor, Bill Crest.

BILL: Glad to meet you, Professor.

HUMBERT: How do you do?

DICK: Well, gee, Lo's told me so much about you.

LOLITA (going into the kitchen): Well, I guess we might as well fix that thumb.

DICK: This is a grand surprise, Professor. When you didn't answer the letter we were afraid that you were still sore at Lo for having run away from home.

HUMBERT: Oh, yes.

DICK (reaching in the refrigerator): How about a beer?

HUMBERT: No, thank you.

DICK: I'll bet you you're dry after that long drive. This is some of that foreign beer. I'm sure you'll like it.

HUMBERT: No beer, thank you.

LOLITA: Bandages are upstairs.


Dick opens two beers, the spray jetting on Humbert's coat.

DICK: Oh, I'm sorry.

HUMBERT: That's all right.

DICK: Can I get you anything else? Are you hungry?

HUMBERT: Nothing, thank you.

LOLITA: How are you two getting along?

DICK: Just fine.

LOLITA (to Humbert): You'll have to speak up. His phone's on the blink.


He and Lolita sit on the couch.

LOLITA: One of those for me?

DICK (hands Lolita a beer): Sure, hon. (To Humbert.) I hope you're planning on staying awhile.

519 MLS Humbert. (2:27:15)

DICK: You caught us a little unprepared but we'll try and make you feel at home.

HUMBERT: I shall have to be on my way, I'm afraid.

520 MS Dick and Lolita. (2:27:22)

DICK: You can have the bed upstairs. We sleep down here because Lo likes to watch the TV.

LOLITA: He can't stay, Dick.

DICK: What a shame. I wish you could.

521 MS Humbert. (2:27:31)

522 MS Dick and Lolita. (2:27:33)

LOLITA: Why don't you tell him about Alaska?

DICK: Yeah. I guess Lo explained to you about going to Alaska and all that, in the letter. It's a marvelous opportunity up there. An opportunity for a guy like me to get in on the ground floor. Industry's opening up and if we can scrape together enough money with maybe your help, well, we can go. We've got a few back debts...

523 MS Humbert. (2:27:31)

DICK: ...we kind of over-extended ourselves.

524 MS Dick and Lolita. (2:27:58)

LOLITA: How are the Farlows?

525 MS Humbert. (2:28:00)

HUMBERT: John Farlow's quite all right. It was he who gave me your letter, of course.

DICK: She's sure a swell kid, Professor Haze. She sure is. She's just nuts about dogs and kids. She's going to make a swell mother, too.

526 MS Dick and Lolita. (2:28:13)

DICK: Alaska's a great place for kids, you know. Lots of room for them to run around.

527 MS Humbert. (2:28:17)

Bill comes down the stairs.

BILL: Well, it's as good as new.

528 MLS Dick and Lolita. (2:28:22)

DICK: Well, we'd better get back to work, Bill. I guess you two have a lot to talk about.

BILL: It's been a pleasure meeting you, Professor.

HUMBERT: Thank you.

DICK: When you've finished, Dad, I hope you don't mind me calling you that, come out back and I'll show you what I'm making for the kid.

HUMBERT: Thank you.

DICK: Just holler, sweetheart, if you want me for KP.

Shot 517

Shot 518

Shot 519

Shot 520

Shot 521

Shot 522

Shot 523

Shot 524

Shot 525

Shot 526

Shot 527

Shot 528

529 MCU Humbert and Lolita. (2:28:45)

LOLITA (takes off her glasses): Dick's awfully sweet, isn't he?

HUMBERT (seizes her arm): Come here.

LOLITA: What's going on? What are you doing?

HUMBERT: This may be neither here nor there...

530 MCU Humbert from behind Lolita. (2:28:57)

HUMBERT: ...but I've got to say it. Life is very short. Between here and that old car outside are 25 paces. Make them, now, right now.

LOLITA: What?

HUMBERT: Come away with me now, just as you are.

LOLITA: You mean you'll give us the money only if I go to a hotel with you?

HUMBERT: No, you've got it all wrong. I want you to leave your husband and this awful house. I want you to live with me and die with me and everything with me.

LOLITA: You must be crazy.

HUMBERT: No, I'm perfectly serious, Lo. I've never been less crazy in all my life. We'll start afresh. We can forget everything that has happened.

LOLITA: No, it's too late.

HUMBERT: No, it's not too late.

LOLITA: Will you please keep your voice down.

HUMBERT: All right. But don't tell me it's too late, because it's not. If you want time to think, that's all right because, after all, I've waited already for three years and I think I could wait for the rest of my life if necessary. You're not giving anything up, there's nothing here to keep you. All right, don't tell me, this man is married to you, but that's purely incidental. It was an accident that you met him in the first place. You're not bound to him in any way, whereas you are bound to me by everything that we have lived through together, you and I.

LOLITA: I'm going to have his baby in three months.

HUMBERT: I know.

LOLITA: I've ruined too many things in my life. I can't do that to him, he needs me.


Humbert begins crying.

LOLITA: Oh, come on now, don't make a scene. Stop crying! He can walk in here at any minute. Will you please stop crying?

531 Humbert and Lolita. (2:30:27)

Humbert has pulled a wallet out of his coat.

HUMBERT (taking out some money): There are no strings attached, it's your money anyway, it comes from the rent of the house. There's $400 in cash.

LOLITA (taking the money): Four hundred dollars!

HUMBERT (hands her the check): I've made out a check here for $2,500. There's someone in Ramsdale who's prepared to take care of the mortgages on the house and make a down payment of $10,000. Here's the papers.

LOLITA (taking the papers): You mean we're getting $13,000? That's wonderful!

532 CU Humbert and Lolita. (2:31:18)

LOLITA: Oh, come on now, don't cry. I'm sorry. Try to understand. I'm really sorry that I cheated so much but I guess that's just the way things are.

Lolita touches Humbert's hand and he jumps up and flees.

533 MS Humbert and Lolita. (2:31:42)

LOLITA: Hey, where are you going?

534 MCU Lolita at the door. (2:31:46)

Shot 529

Shot 530

Shot 531

Shot 532

Shot 533

Shot 534

535 LS Humbert running to the car. (2:31:48)

LOLITA: Hey, well, listen!

Lolita

536 MCU Lolita at the door. (2:31:50)

LOLITA: Let's keep in touch.

Lolita

537 Humbert climbing in his car. (2:31:52)

LOLITA: I'll write to you when we get to Alaska!

Crossfade Humbert driving away to shot 537.

Lolita

538 Humbert driving through the mist. (2:32:04)

This is a repeat of shot 2 with a different focal length.

Cross fade to the interior of Quilty's house.

Lolita

539 Humbert already inside Quilty's home. (2:32:09)

Lolita

HUMBERT: Quilty!

Lolita

HUMBERT: Quilty!

Nabokov as Compared to Kubrick

In the screenplay, after losing Lolita, Humbert stays at a sanitarium for a while for sake of his health then returns to Beardsley college. One day he approaches the room in which he will be giving an exam and finds on it the number 342. Circularity. Coincidence. The number of the Haze home and the hotel room at the Enchanted Hunters Hotel. Kubrick had changed it to 242 in the film, but we have no such scene here, instead circularity in other ways. In the room, he opens a letter he's received and it is the one from Lolita, phrased only slightly differently from in the film and with a little more information on Dick's job.

Next we see him on a Hunter Road, finding Lolita's home. The film has an extended period of discussion, from shot 475 to 517, before Humbert and Dick and Bill meet. Instead, in the screenplay, Lolita immediately introduces him to Dick and Bill, Dick having had no idea that Lolita had written Humbert. They converse briefly then go back outside to work, and Humbert interrogates her on who she ran off with, she divulging it was Clare Quilty. Their conversation in the film paraphrases that in the screenplay. When it comes to the point when Humbert tells her she culd have come back to him she says she was afraid he would kill her, and tells a little about waitressing and eventually meeting Dick.

Narrative is added then about Humbert realizing he loves Lolita.

I looked and looked, and knew that I loved her more than anything I had ever seen, or imagined, or hoped for...She was only the dead-leaf echo of my numphet--but thank God it is not that echo alone that I worshiped. I loved my Lolita...even if those eyes of hers would fade to myopic fish, and her nipples swell and crack--even then I would go made with tenderness at the mere sight of your dear worn face, at the mere sound of your raucous young voice, my Lolita.

It is then he implores her to leave with him. He says he will even make a brand new God if she give him the hope that one day she might. She says no. He says it would have made all the difference. As he leaves, she warns him a storm is coming.

The screenplay then moves on to more narrative, the psychiatrist who treated Humbert after he killed Quilty relating how Lolita died giving birth to a stillborn child and Humbert hadn't known of that death before writing the below:

...you are still as much part of blest matter as I am. I can still talk to you and make you live in the minds of later generations. I'm thinking of aurochs and angels, the secret of durable pigments, prophetic sonnets, the refuge of art. And this is the only immortality you and I may share, my Lolita.

End of screenplay.

In the book he is living with Rita when he receives two letters, one from Farlow telling him he is no longer going to take care of his affairs and demanding he produce Lolita, and the next one from...Lolita, dated September 18th.

He pursues and locates where Dick Schiller was living when they married (Killer Street) and then locates her on Hunter Road.

As in the film, he does not immediately meet Dick but instead begins interrogating Lolita about the man who she'd left with, Humbert recognizing that Dick is not the man for whom he's looking. She refuses to tell him, then when he threatens to leave, she confesses who it was, the only man she had ever been crazy about. What about Dick? He was a lamb but it wasn't the same etc. Had Humbert never counted? The past was past and she guessed he had been a good father. She relates how she had met Quilty when she was ten and he had pulled her on his lap and kissed her. He had seen them at the inn. She felt it had been horrid of her to sidetrack him into believing Clare was an old female. She further felt that the world was one big gag after another and if someone wrote up her life no one would believe it.

At this point Dick, who is hard of hearing and a veteran, enters with Bill who has only one arm. They have beer. Dick thinks he's going to stay there and Humbert says he's just passing through. Humbert realizes that Bill's one thumb is bleeding, and Lolita takes him to the kitchen to bandage him up. Dick talks about what a swell mother Lolita will make.

Dick goes back outside, and as Lolita smokes, "Gracefully, in a blue mist, Charlotte Haze rose from her grave." Humbert accuses her of betraying him and demands to know where Quilty is. She says there had been no betrayal as Humbert was among friends with Quilty as he too liked little girls and had been jailed once. He was a genius. He took her to a dude ranch that was lush and had a waterfall and they had gone through a coronation ceremony, a ducking, "as when you cross the Equator." His Hollywood promises didn't work out. He was an addict, a sex freak and his friends were his slaves. She refused to take part in his friends "movie pictures" and Quilty kicked her out.

I...looked at her, and knew as clearly as I know I am to die, that I loved her more than anything I had ever seen or imagined on earth, or hoped for anywhere else. She was only the faint violet whiff and dead leaf echo of the nymphet I had rolled myself upon with such cries in the past...but thank God it was not that echo alone that I worshiped...You may jeer at me, nad threaten to clear the court, but until I am gagged and half-throttled, I will shout my poor truth. I insist the world know how much I loved my Lolita, this Lolita, pale and polluted...still mine...No matter, even if those eyes of hers would fade to myopic fish...

Etcetera. He begs her to leave with him, as in the film and screenplay. Think it over, at least, but with no strings attached hands over her trousseau. She begs him to stop crying and apologizes for having cheated so much. "...but that's the way things are."

Leaving, he drives off in search of Quilty.

Unless it can be proven to me--to me as I am now, today, with my heart and my beard, and my putrefaction--that in the infinite run it does not matter a jot that a North American girl-child named Dolores Haze had been deprived of her childhood by a maniac, unless this can be proven (and if it can, then life is a joke), I see nothing for the treatment of my misery but the melancholy and very local palliative of articulate art.

He reflects, as he drives, on how horrible he had treated her, how he had loved her and had still done these things to her.

He revisits Ramsdale then finds Pavor Manor (Fear/Dread/Terror Manor), where Quilty stays.

Bang bang. He executes Quilty though Humbert later says he doesn't believe in capital punishment and assumes his judge will be opposed to it as well.

The book ends much as does the screenplay.

...while the blood still throbs through my writing hand, you are still as much part of blessed matter as I am, and I can still talk to you from here to Alaska. Be true to your Dick. Do not let other fellows touch you. Do not talk to strangers. I hope you will love your baby. I hope it will be a boy. That husband of yours, I hope, will always treat you will, because otherwise my specter shall come at him, like black smoke, like a demented giant, and pull him apart nerve by nerve. And do not pity C.Q. One had to choose between him and H.H. and one wanted H.H. to exit at least a couple of months longer, so as to have him make you live in the minds of later generations. I am thinking of aurochs and angels, the secret of durable pigments, prophetic sonnets, the refuge of art. And this is the only immortality you and I may share, my Lolita.

Quilty's Presence in the Scene

Lolita wears glasses which could have belonged to Quilty. It is only when she takes them off, saying "Dick's awfully sweet", that Humbert grasps her and pulls her to the door, proclaiming, "This may be neither here nor there..." and begs her to leave with him, insisting she's no connection with Dick despite the child, that he is simply an "accident". If we reflect back on Lolita's intrusion on Charlotte's attempted seduction of Humbert after the dance, it was when Lolita quizzed her mother on Quilty, saying all the girls were crazy about him, too, that Charlotte retorted, "That's neither here nor there."

Humbert's Tears Prefigured

Humbert's tears are prefigured in the painting that hung outside his bedroom/study at the Haze household.

Lolita

Lolita

The Ranch and the Coronation Ceremony

Kubrick leaves out the name of the ranch, which was Duk Duk, and that Quilty and Lolita went through a crossing the equator style of coronation ceremony upon their arrival.

Duk Duk, in the annotated Lolita, is given as probably having something to do with sex.

...an obscene Oriental word for copulation, sometimes rendered in English as dak or dok, from the Persian dakk (vice, evil condition) and dokhtan (to pierce). No less "an amateur of sex lore" than Quilty, H.H. gleaned this from a sixteenth-century work, The Perfumed Garden of the Cheikh Nefzaoui, a Manual of Arabian Erotology (188), translated by Sir Richard Burton, the British explorer and Orientalist (the treatise is mentioned by name in Ada).

From The Perfumed Garden of the Cheikh Nefzaoui...

In order to express the movement which takes place in the act of coition, the author uses the word "dok" with reference to the man, and "hez" for the woman. The first of these words means to concuss, to stamp, to pound; it is the action of the pestle in the mortar; the second word signifies a swinging movement, at once exciting, exhilarating, and lascivious.

We have the same idea in the Hebrew word daq, small or thin, dwarf, from daqaq, meaning to crush, crumble, beat into pieces, bruise, make dust etc. Doq, from the same, can mean a fine, thin cloth as a curtain.

The crossing the equation ceremony involves (or used to involve) ducking/dunking in water, and cross-dressing. The reason the cross-dressing aspect is of interest is because of the androgyne, such as Vivian Darkbloom who is Nabokov's anagram presence in the film.

Richard Schiller's Deafness, Ode to Joy and Bill's Cut Thumb

Fredrich Schiller wrote the poem "Ode to Joy", used by Beethoven in the final movement of his "Ninth Symphony". Joy, freude. Twice Nabokov speaks of Harold Haze's pistol, in his possession, and the Freudian implications of it, one of those times being in the presence of the deaf Richard Schiller, as he reflects on the joy of Quilty's impending death, "...If he was silent, I could be silent too. Indeed, I could very well do with a little rest...before I drove to wherever the beast's lair was--and then pulled the pistol's foreskin back and then enjoyed the orgasm of the crushed trigger: I was always a good little follower of the Viennese medicine man..." In this paragraph then we have the deaf Dick Schiller, and joy related to Freud(e). Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Lolita is seeing to Bill's cut thumb. When Humbert inquires about their going to Canada, realizes his lapse and says Alaska, Dick's response is that he supposed Bill had cut it on a jagger, and had lost his arm in Italy. This replicates the phallic imagery, suggested by Humbert with the gun, jagger being a German sharpshooter, from German jager, meaning "huntsman".

Again, the hunter.

Bill and his cut thumb are earlier alluded to in the screenplay when Humbert receives the mail that includes the letter from Lolita. Glancing at his mail he's' taken out of his pigeonhole, he remarks, "This is a circular. This is from a Mrs. Richard Schiller--some graduate student, I presume. This is a fenestrated bill. This is a publisher's list. And this is not for me but for Professor Humphries." Schiller means student. Fenestrated means a window, opening for light. The window in the bill is Bill's cut thumb. If we want to try to take it further we could wonder if this bill, a written statement, ultimately alludes to not the Latin bulla, but instead the animal bull. It seems not too unreasonable when one considers that Nabokov's final lines, in immortalizing Lolita, include thoughts of "aurochs and angels", aurochs being bison/oxen. The Spanish fighting bull resembles the extinct auroch, the bull of the legendary Minotaur.

My conjecture is that the deaf Schiller may have to do with deaf Beethoven's use of Schiller's poem.

And this is of particular interest concerning Kubrick's later choice to film A Clockwork Orange in which Beethoven and the Ode to Joy figure so greatly, Beethoven's very image hanging over Alex's bed, covering his window as well, just as the painting of the pair playing Beethoven's Kreutzer sonata hangs over Humbert's prospective bed in the Haze home.

Year Conflict

The film begins with Quilty's death scene. Then, shot 64 begins the flashback to "Four Years Earlier".

Maybe. Maybe not. The action begins in 1957. The monster movie at the drive-in came out in 1957. Six months later they are at Beardsley. The license plate on the car when the blow-out is had shows the year 1957. Entertainment media in the Schiller home sets the story for ending in 1958.

Lolita

The above image is from somewhere on the web, I don't know the origin. Kubrick takes care to clearly show us a "Seventeen" magazine on Mrs. Schiller's couch. It is this one, which was published in December 1958. "Hurrah for the Holidays!" with antlers, holly and not-really-lederhosen.

There is a calendar on the wall in the Schiller home and I imagine if we could read the date it would be 1958.

That Pin-Up Girl in the Hood

From a distance it looks like a normal calendar pin-up. Taking it for granted it was so, I searched hight and low for it. No luck at all. If you can identify it let me know, please. One can barely make out that it reads "December" on the lower screen left above the calendar portion.

Lolita

Lolita is 6 months pregnant. Instead, in the book, she gives birth to a stillborn girl and dies on December 25, 1952 after the move to Alaska. We may have something of this preserved here in the December calendar and the December issue of Seventeen.

Where are you hiding, Dolores Haze?
Why are you hiding, darling?
(I talk in a daze, I walk in a maze
I cannot get out, said the starling)

There are two things I want to speak of here. The first is that in the book's forward, crafted by Nabokov as written by psychiatrist, John Ray, makes mention of names and places being disguised, except for Lolita, of course. The only name he gives as rhyming with the original is "Haze".

Its author's bizarre cognomen is his own invention; and, of course, this mask--through which two hypnotic eyes seem to glow--had to remain unlifted in accordance with its wearer's wish. While "Haze" only rhymes with the heroine's real surname, her first name is too closely interwound with the inmost fiber of the book to allow one to alter it...

...For the benefit of old-fashioned readers who wish to follow the destinies of the "real" people beyond the "true" story, a few details may be given...

Given the repetitive bull and matador imagery in the Haze household, and Nabokov/Humbert ending the novel speaking of "aurochs and angels", one might wonder if the name Haze rhymes with is Mayes or Maze.

One may be reminded of Lolita herself opting to make a "corny" rhyme of her name in the dim-mid scene in which Humbert reads her part of the Poe poem.

"Thus I pacified Psyche and kissed her
And conquered her scruples and gloom
And we passed to the end of the vista
But were stopped by the door of a tomb
And I said, 'What is written, sweet sister?'
She replied, 'Ulalume, Ulalume'."

Lolita objected, "Well, the 'vista-sista', that's like 'Lolita-sweeta'."

The poem is about an individual trapped in an unconscious circularity by which he returns to the tomb of his beloved without initially recognizing the path. One could say he is a prisoner, which takes us to one of Humbert's poems he would write after Lolita fleeing from him.

Where are you hiding, Dolores Haze?
Why are you hiding, darling?
(I talk in a daze, I walk in a maze
I cannot get out, said the starling)

The maze in which the starling is trapped refers to Nabokov's tale of the partial genesis of of Lolita, the story of the ape who, when given charcoal, eventually drew lines which were the bars of its cage. I've already written of this. But who exactly is the parenthetical one in the maze? Humbert? How about Lolita? I would think both of them, despite Lolita's seeming escape. In the poem, Humbert first identifies her as being a "starlet", and Lolita's death will occur in Gray Star, Alaska.

The starling of Humbert's poem comes from two sources. One is A Sentimental Journey by Laurence Stern.

...the Bastile! the terror is in the word--Make the most of it you can, said I to myself, the Bastile is but another word for a tower--and a tower is but another word for a house you can't get out of...but with nine livres a day, and pen and ink and paper and patience, albeit a man can't get out, he may do very well within...and he comes out a better and wiser man than he went in...the Bastile is not an evil to be despised--but strip it of its towers--fill up the fosse--unbarricade the doors--call it simply a confinement, and suppose 'tis some tyrant of a distempter--and not of a man which holds you in it--the evil half vanishes, and you bear the other half without complaint.

I was interrupted in the hey-day of this soliloquy, with a a voice which I took to be of a child, which complained "it could not get out."--I look'd up and down the passage, and seeing neither man, woman, or child, I went out without further attention.

In my return back through the passage, I heard the same words repeated twice over; and looking up, I saw it was a starling hung in a little cage.--"I can't get out--I can't get out," said the starling.

The narrator attempts to release the bird but is unable to do so.

I vow, I never had my affections more tenderly awakened; or do I remember an incident in my life, where the dissipated spirits, to which my reason had been a bubble, were so suddenly call'd home. Mechanical as the notes were, yet so true in tune to nature were they chanted, that in one moment they overthrew all my systematic reasonings upon the Bastile; and I heavily walk'd up stairs, unsaying every word I had said in going down them.

Disguise thyself as thou wilt, still slavery! said I--still thou art a bitter draught; and though thousands in all ages have been made to drink of thee, thou art no less bitter on that account. 'Tis thou, thrice sweet and gracious goddess, addressing myself to LIBERTY, whom all in public or in private worship, whose taste is grateful, and ever wilt be so...

Etcetera. The story of the bird is also given, that it was caught upon the cliffs at Dover "before it could well fly" and was taken to Paris by a the captor who grew fond of it and taught it the four simple words, "I can't get out."

Let's say Kubrick knew of all this, it may be why he chose Dover, New Hampshire for the establishing shot (67) of Ramsdale. I'm going to take it for granted that Kubrick knew a lot about the book he'd chosen to film. For both Nabokov and Kubrick, the reflection on the slavery of the starling would fit Lolita's slavery, Humbert trying to convince her that he lets her do all sorts of things (he doesn't). It fits Humbert's slavery to his obsession (an obsession upon which he acts, thus imprisoning Lolita in it as well). It also fits the Nabokov's description of his characters as being his galley slaves, and as I've pointed out Kubrick takes Burgess to task, as well as King, for the same thing.

Jane Austen refers to the starling also in Mansfield Park, and it's from her that Humbert cribs his line.

"...the sun shines, and the park looks very cheerful. But unluckily that iron gate, that ha-ha, gives me a feeling of restraint and hardship. 'I cannot get out,' as the starling said."

So, Was Lolita a Love Story

There's a filmed co-interview of Nabokov and Lionel Trilling online, from 1958 or 1959. Nabokov says of Lolita:

First of all, I don't wish to touch hearts, and I don't even want to affect minds very much. What I want to produce is really that little sob in the spine of the artist's reader. I leave the field of ideas to Dr. Schweitzer and to Dr. Zhivago...you imply a purpose, an object, an awakening, beyond and apart from the dream of the book. I have invented in America, my America, just as fantastic as any inventor's America.

I don't feel I have any special message...

To this Trilling responds:

You can't trust a creative writer to say what he has done. He can say what he meant to do and even then we don't have to believe him.

Which I think is Trilling's one correct observation in the interview. As it goes on, Trilling and Nabokov (Nabokov sometimes echoing Trilling) describe Lolita as being about love rather than sex, and that people think it is about sex because they think in cliches.

Some excerpts:

Trilling: It is not a book so much about an aberration as about an actual love. A love that makes all the terrible demands that almost any love makes, certainly that any sexual love makes. But is very full of tenderness. Very full of compassion as well as well as passion...

Interviewer (who has described Humbert's relationship with Lolita as an affair): ...What Mr. Trilling is saying, I think, is your book is about love and not about sex.

Nabokov: And I agree with him perfectly.

Interviewer: But a great many people, who are shocked by this book, think it is a book about sex, right?

Trilling: Oh, yes, and because it is destructive and because the love is destructive or cruel or many other things it is no less love, in fact this why it is love. Love is all these things.

Nabokov: They think in cliches. For them sex is something so well defined there's a kind of gap between it and love. They don't know what love is, perhaps. And perhaps they don't know what sex is either.

Nabokov has a pile of notes and cards on his lap because he never had interviewers in which he didn't have the questions in advance and prepared answers. Also, many interviews that were presented as happening personally with him were accomplished in writing, and Nabokov had final, authoritative say on the interview before publication. Keep this in mind with Nabokov's 1967 interview in the Paris Review, The Art of Fiction, No. 40.

No, it is not my sense of the immorality of the Humbert Humbert-Lolita relationship that is strong; it is Humbert's sense. He cares, I do not. I do not give a damn for public morals, in America or elsewhere. And, anyway, cases of men in their forties marrying girls in their teens or early twenties have no bearing on Lolita whatever. Humbert was fond of “little girls”—not simply “young girls.” Nymphets are girl-children, not starlets and “sex kittens.” Lolita was twelve, not eighteen, when Humbert met her. You may remember that by the time she is fourteen, he refers to her as his “aging mistress.”

And...

Humbert Humbert is a vain and cruel wretch who manages to appear “touching.” That epithet, in its true, teariridized sense, can only apply to my poor little girl. Besides, how can I “diminish” to the level of ciphers, etcetera, characters that I have invented myself? One can “diminish” a biographee, but not an eidolon.

Nabokov gave all his characters as galley slaves.

In a 1962 interview, Humbert describes the genesis of Lolita.

She was born a long time ago, it must have been in 1939, in Paris; the first little throb of Lolita went through me in Paris in '39, or perhaps early in '40, at a time when I was laid up with a fierce attack of intercostal neuralgia which is a very painful complaint-- rather like the fabulous stitch in Adam's side. As far as I can recall the first shiver of inspiration was somehow prompted in a rather mysterious way by a newspaper story, I think it was in Paris Soir, about an ape in the Paris Zoo, who after months of coaxing by scientists produced finally the first drawing ever charcoaled by an animal, and this sketch, reproduced in the paper, showed the bars of the poor creature's cage.

This is the story that he often gave and which he also gave in the earlier interview with Trilling, minus the Adam's side portion. As to why he wrote Lolita...

It was an interesting thing to do. Why did I write any of my books, after all? For the sake of the pleasure, for the sake of the difficulty. I have no social purpose, no moral message; I've no general ideas to exploit, I just like composing riddles with elegant solutions.

Again, as with the Trilling interview, Nabokov insists there is no message, no social purpose. It was for the pleasure of it, a riddle with an elegant solution.

In 1960, in Horizon Magazine, Kubrick referred to Trilling as regards his understanding of Lolita.

I've always been amused at the cries of pornography, because, to me, Lolita seemed a very sad and tender love story. I believe that Lionel Trilling, in an article he wrote about the book, said that it was the first great [contemporary] love story. He remarked that in great love stories of the past, the lovers--by their love and through their love--totally estranged themselves from society and created a sense of shock in the people around them. And because of the slackening moral and spiritual values in the twentieth century, in no love story until Lolita has that occurred.

The Complete Kubrick by David Hughes, supplies the following observation.

In discussing Lolita prior to its release, Kubrick was careful to distance the film from the controversial subject matter of its source material, stating--somewhat unconvincingly -- that it was the story of "the outsider who is passionately committed to action against the social order' and was, in that respect, similar to his earlier films. "The protagonists of Paths of Glory, The Killing, Spartacus and...Lolita are all outsiders fighting to some impossible thing, whether it's pulling a perfect robbery or saving innocent men from execution by a militaristic state or carrying on a love affair with a twelve-year-old girl."

The above is from a NY Times article by Eugene Archer, Oct 2, 1960, titled "'Spartacus':Hailed in Farewell".

The theme Mr. Kubrick indicated, has distinct parallels with his other film work. "It concerns the outsider who is passionately committed to action against the social order. I mean the outsider in the Colin Wilson sense--the criminal, maniac, poet, lover, revolutionary. The protagonists of 'Paths of Glory,' 'The Killing,' 'Spartacus' and my next film, 'Lolita,' are all outsiders fighting to do some impossible thing, whether it's pulling a perfect robbery or saving innocent men from execution by a militaristic state or carrying on a love affair with a 12-year-old girl."

"If I have my way, they'll think in 'Lolita' too," he said. "The audience will start by being repelled by this 'creep' who seduces a not-so-innocent child, but gradually, as they realize he really loves the girl, they'll find that things aren't quite as simple as they seemed, and they won't be so ready to pass moral judgments. I consider that a moral theme."

Nabokov. I feel like there's a whole lot of disingenuous going on. I would like to hear the explanation behind "I don't wish to touch hearts and I don't even want to affect minds" and the avowal he has no use for "ideas". Had I been the interviewer I would have stuck around those answers and probed them some, but Nabokov had his notes and the interviewer likely had his list of questions he was permitted to ask and to delve deeper into the matter wasn't permitted. Because I'm not sure how you write a story not just once but several times and do so only for the "pleasure" of it, considering the subject matter in this case, nor how Nabokov could protest that it is Humbert who cares about public morals and Humbert who has a strong sense of the immorality of his relationship with Lolita whereas he, Nabokov, does not.

Sorting out Lolita is difficult because it's the combined visions of Kubrick and Nabokov, Nabokov's screenplay (hardly used) not serving his book well, and Kubrick salvaging material from the book that Nabokov neglected. As a dark comedy, it falls short in a way that A Clockwork Orange did not with its complex portrayal of a horrifying yet sympathy-inducing Alex--but that sympathy was possible because the Ludovico treatment made Alex vulnerable, and also because Kubrick left out of the movie the part of the book's plot in which Burgess had Alex brutally rape two preteen girls. I would imagine Kubrick knew he couldn't keep that and hope for the audience to have sympathy for Alex.

To read the book, Lolita, is to walk away feeling largely unconflicted about Nabokov's portrayal, as Humbert's emotional and physical brutality and his falseness shine through the cracks between the lines. Indeed, it's a brilliant portrayal of the vanity, the insecurity, the psychopathology of power and abdication of any responsibility for one's actions, Humbert attempting to convince the audience of how he loved Lolita more than he victimized her, fenangling for trust by admitting his brutalities even as he obfuscates with kilos of sweetener. To read or listen to Nabokov on Lolita, however, is quite a different experience and leaves a person wondering if one got it all wrong after all, if Nabakov himself had a grasp on exactly what he was doing and why, or if he callously, coldly, and grotesquely abandoned his nymph to a love story interpretation, ultimately terrified by the public's glare, for some reason feeling it best to promote Lolita as a love story, when that wasn't what the book was about. It was about brutal abuse and use and Humbert not having a clue who Lolita as a person was, not caring for her as a person until at the bitter end, on his way to Quilty's, he seems to grasp a little of just how he didn't know her, how he had abused her, and even then one doesn't deem his feelings as too trustworthy.

But then one comes to rather wonder about Nabokov who not only "loved" butterflies but took a rather perverse and gleeful pleasure in how his expression of that love, his netting and cataloguing of them, meant killing them, the ruthless part being all subtle italics in his presentation of his enchantment as necessarily, possessively scientific expertise. His butterflies were his Lolitas.

Nabokov also had an eye not for young girls but the college girls he was entrusted to teach, and had not only flirtations but some passionate flings, which are in themselves abuses of power, but from what I've read Nabokov seems to have been largely unconflicted about them. Maybe he took it as part and parcel of being a professor. Part of the salary. The college girls were not Lolitas but he may have invested Lolita with bits of them.

Nabakov had to write about this young girl (by "had to" I mean compelled to do so) and the abuse of youth by adults. If it was a love story, he could have written of an older girl. Instead he wrote of Lolita over and over again. There's been speculation that Nabokov was subject to sexual abuse by his uncle, which doesn't seem too far-fetched given the way Humbert writes about his uncle, remembering him at peculiar moments such as when he was about to rape Lolita in her drugged state at the hotel, and then believing for a time it was perhaps his uncle who was following them. Nabokov may very well have not been abused, but given how he wrote about Lolita over and over again, I wouldn't be surprised if one day a piece of paper popped up that admitted such.

A love story? How could Trilling call it a love story where there is only abuse? And then Nabokov agrees with Trilling, that it is a love story? And Kubrick as well? Calling it a love affair? Am I to believe he would see this as a love story after his portrayal of men chewed up by the power machine of war in Paths of Glory?

Humbert is the tyrant holding Lolita prisoner in a cage that he decorates with an illusion of freedom in the guise of her not wanting for anything materially. And Lolita certainly didn't love him. Even at the end, when we're supposed to see Humbert realizing his love for Lolita, what is wrong with this picture when Humbert doesn't apologize to Lolita but Lolita instead apologizes to him for having cheated on him? What is wrong with this picture when Humbert still interprets their time together as a bond that surpasses that which she has with her husband, entreating her to leave and live and die with him. Lolita may still be in a cage, but she makes it clear it's certainly better than the one she was kept in by Humbert.

There is a love story in this film, and it is revealed in the end, but it isn't Humbert's love for Lolita, it is Lolita's love for her husband. The fact that despite all she has been through, despite the fact that she doesn't yet fully comprehend her years of abuse, she is still able to love. The audience, as with Humbert, takes it for granted that she doesn't love because she says Quilty was the only one she was ever crazy for. But, as we know with Humbert, being crazy for someone doesn't translate into love. Love is not just feeling but dedication, decision, and sacrifice. Kubrick is always interested in the plight of human beings in their fated cages, but the particular cage in which Lolita now lives is one she lives in out of choice rather than as a prisoner in Humbert's cage. Again, unaable to comprehend, Humbert, before giving Lolita her inheritance, attempts to persuade her that to be free is to leave what is "shabby", attempts to convince her that she is bound to him through her time of captivity with him, and that her husband is just an "accident" rather than Humbert having been an accident that plowed into then consumed her life.

But there's more, another love story, which is Lolita's empathy for Humbert. When Lolita had found out her mother died, Humbert was unable to tolerate her sobs. He entreated her to stop crying and tried to mollify her with promises that they would be happy together and would do many things together. His promises were material (just as they are material now, he giving her what is actually her due, her inheritance). He had no empathy for her grief. He was pityless. This is a man Lolilta should hate. Now he cries. And Nabokov and Kubrick have her reach out to him to say, "I'm sorry", out of sympathy for him.

Humbert's obsession has been for Lilith rather than Lolita. As stated in the novel..."Humbert was perfectly capable of intercourse with Eve, but it was Lilith he longed for." Humbert may waken a little to a knowledge of his abuse of Lolita and how he doesn't know at all who she is--which he seems to do in the book at the end--but Lilith is his obsession, which he had impressed upon Lolita.

A Parting Observation

I will ever be curious about the reflection in Sue Lyon's glasses in the portrait shot of her by Bert Stern. Below are two movie poster versions, the eye area slightly lightened.

Lolita

Always, the curious reflections are preserved in the posters--and it is remarkable to me as usually one wouldn't want such a reflection. Usually one would want to see the shaded area of the face, without interference, or simply black.

Looking at the below contact sheet image, it seems part of these reflections were had in the lenses but seem to have been dramatically enhanced in the image for the posters.

Lolita

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