Adam Ruins Everything
Jake and Amir
Finals Cheat Sheet
December 7, 2006
We at CollegeHumor are well aware that most of you are in the thick of finals week. Don't worry, we are here to help.
We got a copy of your next final.
Don't ask how, we just did. Listen, we can show it to you, but you have to promise you won't show anybody. Seriously! Okay you can show one person, but don't go handing this around because then everybody will get 100% and that will defeat the purpose. I'm serious! Stop laughing!
Okay here it is. Oh, and don't get everything right, that will be too suspicious. Just get some things right and like two or three things wrong. What? It's a free A-, just take it.
K cool, here you go:
(I know, four falses in a row. Tricky bitch.)
(He's asking for a 5 paragraph piece here, but below we've provided a very detailed version. Just memorize key points, that's all he's looking for key points. It's gonna be worth 45 points, so you wanna be as thorough as possible. Don't worry, read this over a few times and regurgitate the information, you'll be fine.)
Throughout the semester we've discussed the idea of "A world within a World" How has Vladimir Nabokov used this technique to engage the reader. Cite three examples and be sure to use specific passages from the books we've read. No direct quotes needed! Five paragraphs.
In Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita the narrator, as well as main character of the novel, Humbert Humbert portrays a variety of likes and dislikes throughout the novel that add to the complexity of his character. While he describes in detail his love for young teenagers, or nymphets as he calls them, he is also adamant in his distaste for other types of people. Although we are lead to believe that Humbert’s personality is entirely fictional, much like the plot of Lolita, several similarities between Humbert’s personality and Nabokov’s exist which may leave the reader questioning the reality of this fiction. By creating similarities to himself in Humbert’s character, Nabokov blends the reality of the outside world with the reality he creates in Lolita.
In his attempt to retell his earlier love affair with a girl named Annabel, Humbert chooses to describe his later encounter with her first, and only then describe their initial sexual escapade. In her article “Necrophilia in Lolita” Lucy Maddox claims that “For Humbert, beginnings—whether of texts or of lives—can be seen as significant only when the endings are known.” (Maddox 363) This idea is even represented in the style in which Lolita is written as a whole, with respects to the forward Nabokov includes in his novel. The forward is laced with seemingly useless information and references to people the reader has yet to be introduced to. It goes on to explain the real life endings to all of Lolita’s friends, whom the reader doesn’t even know exist yet. And when it speaks of Lolita’s death, Nabokov attempts to hide it from the readers who have yet to read his novel by writing “Mrs. Richard F Schiller died in childbirth giving birth to a stillborn girl.” (4) Only readers who would have read the novel understand that Mrs. Richard F. Schiller is in fact Lolita. This shows that Nabokov too believed that beginnings had a greater significance and meaning, only if the endings were known. The connection between Humbert’s writing style in describing his adventures out of chronological order and Nabokov’s writing style in writing Lolita as a whole, brings closer the idea that the narrator and the author of this book are very similar.
More similarities between Nabokov and Humbert are more based on personality and less on writing style. In his article “"Even Homais Nods": Nabokov's Fallibility, or, How to Revise Lolita” Brian Boyd writes that Nabokov “was of a notoriously precise, even pedantic temperament, hard on anyone else’s mistakes, exigent about particulars, insistent on an exactitude of detail and a delicacy of interconnection that make it natural to expect him to ensure the accuracy of all his work” (Boyd 1). Humbert also portrays this emphasis on details throughout the course of the novel. Through his ability to recount four years worth of actions in great detail, we realize that Humbert is as notoriously meticulous as Nabokov. Even when it comes down to addresses or types of products, Humbert is scrupulously detailed. “From a firm located at 4640 Roosevelt Blvd., Philadelphia, she ordered for our double bed a ‘damask covered 312 coil mattress’ ” (Nabokov 78).
Even in relation to others Nabokov, as well as Humbert preferred to keep a low profile. Nabokov was known to be extremely shy, and according to a
article Nabokov once said in an interview “Socially, I am a cripple.” Humbert too enjoyed life out of the limelight. Humbert’s shyness is due largely in part to his apprehensive behavior in relation to his tenuous relationship with his Lolita. His fear of others finding out leads him to a life of superficial relationships with others and when he is forced to speak to people he just lives in fear that the next question they may ask will be about his relationship with his “daughter”. “I imagined all sorts of horrors, and had to fortify myself with a pint of my “pin” before I could face the interview [with Dolly’s teacher Ms. Pratt]. Slowly, all Adam’s apple and heart, I went up the steps of the scaffold” (Nabokov 193). Humbert has to live his life in perpetual concern of others finding out his big secret, causing him too to become a social cripple.
There exists even more smaller similarities between Humbert Humbert and Vladimir Nabokov,(such as the fact that Nabokov was a French literature major, and Humbert was planning on becoming a French teacher. As well as the fact that he wrote Lolita on several road trips similar to the ones Humbert took out west with Lolita) but even more important than these similarities themselves, are what they represent (
.com). By creating a narrator like himself, Nabokov is able to produce two effects. Firstly, that Nabokov himself becomes less real, more like this fictional narrator he creates. This brings our world, the world we share with Nabokov closer to fiction. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, Humbert, as well as the story of Lolita become more real. By creating Humbert in his own image, Nabokov is adding a sense of realism into his fictional novel. This effect seemed to be intended from the beginning of Lolita with the seemingly real, yet fictional foreword. All of the sudden this story, fictional by nature, has taken a turn for the real, as our reality, has become more like a story. The result is this new world that Nabokov has created in which both the readers as well as Lolita reside.
This creation, in which the world that both we, and Humbert live in further solidified by Humbert’s constant attempts at talking to the readers themselves. Several times throughout the course of the novel Humbert addresses the readers by referring to them as “ladies and gentleman of the jury”. This communication between the readers and Humbert makes it as if we are not reading the novel Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov but rather we are reading Lolita a memoir by Humbert Humbert. All of the sudden we are thrust into this more fictional world because it is as if we are reading Humberts manuscript, when this manuscript is also just part of Nabokov’s creation. This new reality is different for the reader, because it is closer to fiction then the reality we are used to. All of the sudden the reader feels remorse for this murderer and child molestor who under normal circumstances anybody would hope be locked away for life. The sympathy we feel towards Humbert is real, but the fact that we feel it for this seemingly fictional character depicts that we are in this whole new world. We become Humbert’s audience now not Nabokov’s, and Humbert’s audience is just as real a part of this pseudo-real pseudo-fictional world, as Lolita herself.
One could argue that the basis of this new world, the fact that Nabokov is similar to Humbert, is insignificant. One may say that all of these connections between Nabokov and Humbert have no greater purpose; that Nabokov was not intending to create this so-called “new world” when he fashioned Humbert partly in his own image. However, regardless of whether this end result was inadvertent or not, Nabokov is still able to achieve something. Similarities in Nabokov and Humbert’s personality bring Humbert closer to reality and Nabokov closer to fiction. This fact allows Nabokov to combine his two worlds, the real world and the world inside of Lolita into one. Nabokov’s creation may never be proved to be purposeful or accidental however, to undermine the ingeniousness of it all by saying that this creation was an inadvertent one seems illogical. An invention’s existence does not depend on the way in which it was created. In other words, just because this new world that Nabokov created may be accidentally formed, does not make it any less real.
This world in which characters in which both characters within Lolita as well as the readers coexist may have been hinted at during an interview with the author. In a question regarding his newfound fame, the modest Vladimir Nabokov once uttered the now famous quote, “Lolita is famous, not I.” While on the surface, it would make sense that the work is more famous then the author, this quote can also be taken differently. Perhaps the “Lolita” that Nabokov was referring to was not the title of his work, but rather the name of his now famous invented nymphet character. By comparing Lolita’s fame to his own, Nabokov once again blurs the line of reality between the fictional work and our world. It seems absurd that this Nabokov would say that his fictional character is more famous then he is but by doing so, this once again brings the outside world and the world Nabokov created in Lolita into one whole coexistence. Suddenly it is this seemingly fictional character is receiving this real fame, as our realness becomes meshed with Lolita’s fiction.
By drawing upon his own real personality traits when forming the fictional character that is Humbert Humbert, Nabokov was able to create an identity in his novel, rich with realistic behavior. By realizing that not only Nabokov is similar to Humbert, but also that Humbert is like Nabokov, our reality and the reality within the novel itself are suddenly brought closer together. The result is a new world in which we read Lolita as if it is Humbert’s work, in which we try to formulate thoughts and opinions about this fictional character as if he were real. By making Humbert an author, that is to say, by making Lolita a novel about a book, Nabokov is able to bring his fictional characters closer to his readers. Nabokov, author of Lolita, and more importantly, creator of this new world takes solipsism to new heights. His characters create not only a new world for themselves, but also a world that houses its readers as well. But perhaps this should come as no surprise, for Nabokov always stressed that the important relationships transcend the pages of his novels, they do not stay within them. “The true conflict is not between the characters in a novel, but between author and reader.”
Seriously, dude, don't go showing this around. Cool? Solid. Now. Who's ready for winter break!?!?
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