Humbert Humbert, the novel’s middle-aged, Central European narrator, who “writes” the book as his confession while in a prison cell awaiting trial for murder. After his sudden death of coronary thrombosis a few days before the trial’s scheduled start, his book is “edited” by John Ray, Jr., presumably a professor of psychology. Humbert’s name is fictitious and often distorted in the text, rendered as Humbug, Humbird, Humburger, Hamburg, or Homberg. Born in 1910 in Paris, he is the son of a Continental European father (with Swiss, French, and Austrian genes) who owned a luxury hotel on the Riviera and of a beautiful English mother who is killed by a lightning bolt when the boy is three years old. Humbert traces his sexual obsession for girls between the ages of nine and fourteen—his term for them is “nymphets”—to a case of interrupted coitus he suffered when, at the age of thirteen, he and a certain Annabel Leigh had their romance forever aborted by her early death.
Lolita Haze, also called Dolores, Dolly, Lo, and Lolly, a twelve-year-old whose mother Humbert marries. She becomes his capricious child-mistress after her mother’s death. She is a gum-chewing, Coke-swilling, comic-book-addicted schoolgirl who exploits Humbert’s obsession with her and is largely insensitive to his feelings. Vexed by his possessiveness, she runs off with playwright Clare Quilty, who turns...
(The entire section is 519 words.)