Chapter 46 Summary

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In the spring, Lolita gets completely absorbed in her school’s theater production, The Enchanted Hunters. One day Humbert sees Miss Pratt having lunch with some friends, and she silently applauds him for allowing Lolita to be involved in the play.

Humbert hates the theater. As an art form, he considers it “primitive and putrid,” more closely associated with caveman rituals than with the greater forms of art that he appreciates. Although he admits that there are a few works of genius in the history of the theater, he insists that a person can absorb the whole benefit of those plays by reading the words.

While Lolita is busy with her rehearsals, Humbert is once again engrossed in his history of French literature. Because of this, he never bothers to read the whole play. He knows that Lolita is playing the role of a farmer’s daughter who thinks she is some kind of witch or goddess, and that her character is eventually bewitched by a vagabond poet played by her friend Mona.

Humbert does notice that the name of Lolita’s play is the same as the name of the first inn where he took her after her mother died. He does not mention this to her because he worries that Lolita will accuse him of being sappy. He assumes, without really thinking about it, that both the inn and the play are named after some local legend which he, as a transplant from Europe, does not know. He also guesses that the play is some butchered classic from an anthology for young adults. Even if he knew the truth—that it is a new play that was just produced for the first time a few months ago in New York—he would not care.

What little Humbert learns about the play's plot is ridiculous. Lolita’s character bewitches several young men, taking them captive. But when she tries to bewitch the poet, he claims that he has created all of Lolita’s victims as well as Lolita herself. At this point, Lolita leads the poet to her parents’ farm and proves that she is a real girl from real life. In the final movement, the two of them kiss, proving “that mirage and reality merge in love.” Humbert is disgusted by the stupidity of it all, but he decides not to mock it in Lolita’s presence. He can see that her interest in the production is healthy, and he finds it charming to watch her practice.

Lolita begs Humbert not to come to any of her rehearsals. She claims that she wants him to be surprised and impressed by the perfect production on opening night. Once, after a “very special rehearsal,” Lolita comes home on her bicycle looking so happy and excited that Humbert thinks, for a breathless moment, that the two of them will no longer be unhappy together. Lolita asks him to tell her the name of a hotel. When Humbert pretends not to know what she means, she says “you know” and describes the lobby of the Enchanted Hunters. When he still plays dumb, she describes it thus: “the hotel where you raped me.” Humbert confirms that the place was called the Enchanted Hunters, and Lolita bursts out laughing. She rides up the street on her bicycle, apparently unable to contain her joy.

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