Journal Article

The Magic of Time in Lolita: The Time Traveller Humbert Humbert

Elisa Pezzotta

in Adaptation

Volume 8, issue 3, pages 297-320
Published in print December 2015 | ISSN: 1755-0637
Published online April 2015 | e-ISSN: 1755-0645 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/adaptation/apv010
The Magic of Time in Lolita: The Time Traveller Humbert Humbert

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This article compares and discusses how story, plot, and personal/memory time in Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita are translated by Stanley Kubrick in his adaptation (Lolita, 1962). The director adopts peculiar cinematographic techniques, such as fades in and out, long takes and deep focus compositions to translate the novel protagonist’s efforts to deal with duration, with the ceaseless flux of past memories. The novel Humbert’s obsession with nymphets and, in particular, with the spatial-temporal boundaries of nine and fourteen years old, is interpreted through Kurt Stocker’s theory about the time machine in our mind. The time travels of the autodiegetic narrator of the book are translated in the film thanks to a closed plot/chain constituted by separated sequences/links, and to the character of Clare Quilty who is obsessively in frame, although the protagonist remains, till the end, unaware of his presence.

Keywords: Kubrick; Nabokov; personal/memory time; Lolita; time travel; time.

Journal Article.  8704 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights) ; Film ; Literature ; Television

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