Being a murderer with a sensational but incomplete and unorthodox memory, I cannot tell you, ladies and gentleman, the exact day when…
Humbert Humbert admits to his own immorality (at least of homicide, if not paedophilia) and, therefore, to his unreliability as a narrator. As a reader I am, however, completely engrossed in Humbert’s world and enveloped into his emotions and ideas. Humbert’s expert use of language draws us in to sympathise and, indeed, empathise with him. After all, he is a protagonist faced with an unattainable and unrequited love. Is Humbert the flawed tragic hero? Lear had his vanities; Humbert has his fantasies.
Humbert proves himself capable of drawing any audience through a use of free indirect discourse. He adapts his language to that of the women in the stores as he talks of ‘Dream pink, frosted aqua, glans mauve…’
To use that old cliché, Humbert lulls the reader into a false sense of security and it is only in closing the book to take a brief pause that we realise that he has also lulled us into almost forgetting or reconsidering our morals.
In short, Nabokov’s Lolita presents a moral monster who is simultaneously fictionally fascinating.