Genres In Lolita

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Many critical disputes about Nabokov’s most controversial novel Lolita deal with the problem of literary genre. The question of whether it is poetry or pornography, a psychological novel or a crime novel, a love story or a confession, cannot have a definite answer because Lolita comprises all these genres in one. The basic generic frame of the novel is certainly prose. Lolita begins with a poetic prose part, which is short and very effective: “LOLITA, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.” (9) Even the most trivial things are poetry when Humbert is concerned. He converts Lolita’s classmates list into a poem and says: “…there was a mimeographed list of names referring, evidently, to her class at the Ramsdale school. It is a poem I know already by heart.” (51) Poetry continues throughout the whole novel, which we can see, for example, in the poem that Humbert recites to Lolita. This poem alludes to the murder which is going to happen later: “Oh my Carmen, my little Carmen! Something, something, those something nights, And the stars, and the cars, and the bars, and the barmen- And, O my charmin’, our dreadful fights. And the something town where so gaily, arm in Arm we went, and our final row, And the gun I killed you with, O my Carmen, The gun I am holding now.” (61) Lolita is a poem in prose till the end of the first part of the novel- till Humbert’s marriage with Charlotte. After this moment, poetry can be rarely seen. Humbert even says: “‘The orange blossom would have scarcely withered on the grave’, as a poet might have said. But I am no poet. I am only a very conscientious recorder.” (71) From this moment, Humbert-the poet has little space; he becomes more practical, and instead of the poem in

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