Vladimir Nabokov

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Lolita: Part 1, Chapter 29 Summary & Analysis

Humbert Humbert returns to the room to molest Lolita. To his surprise, she wakes up easily; the pill given to him by the doctor must have been a fake. Humbert spends the rest of the night unable to sleep from excitement, making small, subtle attempts to touch Lolita in the dark.
As usual, Humbert’s plans for the fulfillment of his fantasies are frustrated at the very last moment. The narrative of Lolita might be said to “tease,” Humbert: it gives him what he wants, and then snatches it away.
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When Lolita wakes up in the morning, she nuzzles Humbert and—to his great surprise—initiates sex with him. Humbert sees this as evidence that Lolita was depraved by her American upbringing long before she was with him. Humbert explains that sex was not the most important thing for him, with Lolita: his real goal is “to fix once and for all the perilous magic of nymphets.”
Once again, we should be careful before trusting Humbert’s version of events. Later on in the novel, Lolita will accuse him of raping her. Despite his perverse sexual desires, Humbert is prudish in his attitude toward culture. He is disgusted by the visibility of sex in American culture, which he uses as a scapegoat for his behavior. As usual, Humbert downplays the physical aspect of his desires. He claims that his desire for nymphets is a matter of aesthetics.
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