Some critics read Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita as a story of Humbert's unrequited love for the title character; others consider it a record of the rant-ings of a mad pedophile, with, as Humbert himself admits, "a fancy prose style." Nabokov's innovative construction, in fact, highlights both of these aspects as it reinforces and helps develop the novel's main theme: the relationship between art and experience. By allowing Humbert to narrate the details of his life with Lolita, Nabokov illustrates the difficulties inherent in an attempt to order experience through art. As he tries to project an ideal vision of his relationship with Lolita, Humbert manipulates readers' responses to him in order to gain sympathy and to effect a suspension of
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Before he begins the details of his life with Lolita, Humbert introduces the following idea: "Between the age limits of nine and fourteen there occur maidens who, to certain bewitched travelers, twice or many times older than they, reveal their true nature which is not human, but nymphic (that is demoniac); and these chosen creatures I propose to designate as 'nymphets.'" This description suggests he was a "hunter," "enchanted" by the "nymphet" Lolita almost against his will He asserts that "under no circumstances would [he] have interfered with the innocence of a child."
In another effort to suspend readers' judgment, Humbert frequently interrupts his memoir with descriptions of sexual customs in other countries and other time periods. He notes that society dictates sexual taboos and that they change from culture to culture and in different time periods. "Let me remind my reader" he begins, that in the past girls Lolita's age frequently married and that artists like Dante and Petrarch "fell madly in love" with young girls. Thus, he intimates, readers should not impose judgment on him based on twentieth-century moral standards.
Humbert provides eloquent descriptions of Lolita that reveal the "incomparable" and "poignant bliss he feels in her presence." In the following passage, he mythologizes her as he reveals his exquisite pleasure over watching her play