Structuralism In Vladimir Nabokovs Lolita English Literature Essay

It has been said the Universe is made of narratives, non of atoms. And while this is poetry non practicality, it does nevertheless talk to something that is, for deficiency of a better word, cosmopolitan. Structure. Engineers will state that everything has a construction either biological or technological. Science speaks of mathematical 1s. Language is no different. All these assorted subjects are notes on the same chord, harmonising in their definition. Whatever the field, the sound is the same. Structure is the name given to that which binds the component parts together, therefore imparting an coalesced strength to the whole. This strength allows whatever is being structured to do the motions dictated by its nature without falling portion. In this instance, it is Lolita. This essay will analyse non merely the content but besides the signifier of this novel through the position of structural linguistics as first articulate by Saussure and introduced to English by Jonathan Culler. Because structuralist narrative theory concerns itself with what gives strength to the nucleus of a work, it is best suited to plunge beneath the deconstructionist surface of Lolita. Helping in this geographic expedition is binary resistance, a anchor of structural linguistics that is cardinal to an analysis of Nabokov ‘s narrative. Ultimately, it will the undertaking of the decision to map as a frogman. For it is the reader that sits in the little fishing boat, expecting the return of the theory from the deepnesss. It is the terminal that that will go up, with what it hopes are pearls of wisdom. But it up to the Sitter to keep up to the Sun what came from the dark and see if value can be discerned.

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As mentioned above, Nabokov ‘s novel has routinely been misconstrued as falling within the protections of deconstructionism, a literary theory that in many ways stands diametrically opposed to structural linguistics. Because Lolita draws keen pleasance from parodying the furnishings of novels from a battalion of genres and exposing the absurdness of those constructions, it can be seen superficially as a deconstructionist text. A deconstructionist reading of Lolita errs because as a theory, it can non hold on what is the Southern Cross of the novel. What is missed with this analysis is the cardinal thought that complete corruption of structural being in Nabokov ‘s book is in fact its ain construction. More compactly, the procedure of corruption itself generates construction. It is this creative activity that will be the primary focal point of this analysis. While it is true that this construction stands in blunt contrast to what one would anticipate to happen in a love affair, route trip, psychoanalytic or “ great American ” novel ( all of which are imitated for the intent of jeer in Lolita ) , it is still nevertheless a construction, with all the constitutional mechanisms of satirizing organizing it. The construct of structural linguistics fundamentally entails any effort to see a specific entity as a system of interrelated mechanisms, all working together to make a whole. Noted academic Jonathan Culler explains that “ Structuralism is therefore based… on the realisation that if human actions or productions have intending there must be an implicit in system of differentiations and conventions which make this significance possible. ” ( Culler, 56 ) . Within literary theory, structural linguistics holds that all literary texts must be comprised of, appropriately plenty, some construction. Like all constructions, there are regulations that the text must, and does, follow. More pointedly for the text being examined here, the theory besides holds that works that intend to overthrow a traditional construction are non barren of construction themselves, but instead exist as a new construction. This last point is of peculiar importance for Lolita and the elements that compose its construction.

Before returning to the primary focal point, it is utile to segue into an scrutiny of some of these composing elements. The first 1 that the reader is introduced to is the preface. Apparently written by a Dr. John Ray Jr. but in actuality penned by the writer, the preface is at times sarcastic, ever overblown and delectations in giving off the novels stoping. Another one of these parodying atoms is Nabokov ‘s consistent usage of overpoweringly insouciant, and at times mistily dismissive, descriptions and accounts. While in “ echt ” novels, a calamity such as the decease of the supporters ‘ female parent might be treated with some gloss of fear, in Lolita the entireness of that even is condensed into a individual sentence: “ My really photogenic female parent died in a freak accident ( picnic, lightning ) when I was three ” ( Nabokov, 10 ) . Another illustration of this cast-off nature ( an tester can hold his choice, the novel is mature to spliting with illustrations of the kind ) is in the names Nabokov assigns to some topographic points. In the vena, it is of no surprise that the location where the titular miss foremost has sex with a male child is called Lake Climax. Many events besides occur for secret plan intents as opposed to Acts of the Apostless of the characters will. Nabokov, parodying the demand for a supporter to hold a tragic backstory, has his ( a adult male named Humbert Humbert ) childhood loved killed by a random disease for the exclusive intent of puting up a jeer of calamity. Much like the decease of Humbert ‘s female parent, the decease of his childhood sweetie eschews convention and is merely a 10 word phrase bolted onto the tail terminal of a tally on sentence. Nabokov continues the medley by taking purpose at love affair and route trip novels by holding his romantic route trip be that of scheming, shocking paedophile and his kid sex slave driving across America because the community in which Humbert ( the aforementioned paedophile ) abused his “ girl ” was going progressively leery of the brace. It is now clip to return to the organic structure of the scrutiny with a newfound clarity as to how, when taken as whole, the thoughts behind these characteristics form the footing of Lolita ‘s aesthetic, and this aesthetic in bend creates the book ‘s construction.

When analyzing the construction of Lolita right, it is impossible to disregard one of the most built-in constructs of structural linguistics, binary resistance. Binary resistance originates with the male parent of structural linguistics, Ferdinand de Saussure. For Saussure, this takes topographic point through his treatment of “ construct ” and “ sound image ” as the psychological parts that comprise a lingual mark ( Saussure, 61 ) . Saussure uses complementary illustrations, such as tree/arbor ( the numerator-denominator placing is of extreme importance ) but this composing of a lingual mark can besides be comprised of opposed footings when placed in Saussurean power moral force. This binary resistance is of import to Structuralism because harmonizing to Saussure “ The full mechanism of languageaˆ¦is based on resistances ” ( Saussure, 70 ) . What Saussure means by this is the the visible radiation that opposites shine on one another are in bend important to lighting how linguistic communication and civilization ( among other things ) are structured. Lolita draws to a great extent from this strain of believing within structural linguistics by puting up a system wherein one object or character is meant to exemplify the nature of another through mirroring or the creative activity of an opposite relationship. These relationships, both in the actual and literary senses, are frequently a mirror in their ain manner.

* Possibly the finest illustration of the binary resistance inherit to Lolita is the diametral relationship between supporter and adversary and how they both relate to Lolita herself. While the supporter is Humbert Humbert, the adversary is the adult male who takes Lolita off from Humbert and whose chase comprises the better portion of the last tierce of the novel. His name is Clare Quilty. On the most simplistic degree, the mirror is an obvious protagonist/antagonist dichotomy, but that is mere character development and any treatment concerning that point would be an anaesthetizing rational leukotomy. No, far more interesting is how the two work forces interact with the object of their fondness, Lolita, in ways that are every bit similar as they are different. Given that Lolita is the prism through which all the other characters ‘ actions pass through, the duality of her dealingss with Humbert and Quilty serves nicely as a premier illustration of binary resistance and mirroring. Humbert is capable of experiencing a echt love for Lolita old ages after his paedophilia would propose that he should non. This is seen when he visits her once she is grown up and married and proclaims to the reader that “ until I am gagged and half-throttled, I will shout my hapless truthaˆ¦I love this Lolita ” . In contrast to this capacity for sincere love long after sexual desire is no longer psychologically possible, Quilty has tremendous apathy to trying to cite up old memories of her clip with him. This is in malice of the fact that he was being forced to at gunpoint by Humbert ( Nabokov 217 ) . What this blunt contrast allows for is the realisation that Humbert has developed and changed over the class of the events of the narrative, since this patterned advance falls into line with the traditional procedure of a hero ‘s journey, the audience is more inclined to dole out a step of redemption to him. Conversely, Quilty remains a changeless through the novel, and as such retains a consistent villainousness. Nabokov has this relationship expounded by Lolita herself, but brightly utilizing Humbert ‘s voice when he writes from Lolita ‘s position that the chief difference between her two tortures was that “ He [ Quilty ] broke my bosom. You [ Humbert ] simply broke my life ” ( Nabokov 202 ) . This is but one illustration of a book replete with mirroring and reverse relationships. Furthermore, Nabokov ‘s usage, and the readers reading of, a myriad of Saussurean resistances deepens the apprehension of Lolita ‘s overarching construction.


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