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Memory, Consciousness, and Time in Nabokov's Lolita

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In his "Confession of a White Widowed Male," Humbert Humbert, the fictional narrator of Nabokov's Lolita, writes: "I am not concerned with so-called 'sex' at all." In the context of a narrative that centers on his pedophilia, it is difficult to take this assertion seriously. Yet if we do, we come to appreciate that Humbert's sexuality is emblematic of a distinctly modernist response to the perennial question of how to counter temporal passage and the inevitable loss attendant on it. Nabokov's configuration of memory, consciousness, and time in Lolita shows how passage itself might be engaged in the creative enterprise of resisting loss.


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