Vladimir Nabokov

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Lolita: Part 1, Chapter 19 Summary & Analysis

Charlotte makes Humbert Humbert tell her all the details of his love life to date, encouraging him to insult his previous lovers. He is disgusted by her jealousy, but obliges it, “padding,” his sexual history with invented women as he goes along. Humbert is contemptuous of Charlotte’s melodramatic way of speaking, which he thinks comes from soap operas. He is also upset by Charlotte’s seeming hatred for her daughter, whom he has begun to imagine as his own.
Charlotte lives in a fantasy world of melodramatic romance which comes from popular culture. This disgusts Humbert, a refined European scholar, but also allows him to deceive her: he makes up stories based on what he knows is already there in her imagination. Once again, this should put us on guard as readers: we are given a clear example of Humbert’s ability to make up deceptive stories based on what his audience expects to hear.
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