'Lolita' and ... ADVANCED HIGHER ENGLISH DISSERTATION

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fd16
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#1
Report Thread starter 11 years ago
#1
hey, i've always really wanted to do lolita as my dissertation book, but the thing is i've left it so late and i'm really struggling to find a book and a question that i can fit it into.

i've seen a few posts about death in venice and dangerous liaisons but i just can't come up with a question!

if not i've thought about the theme of revenge with the count of monte cristo, so any opinions on what would be best would be really helpful too!

just wondering if anyone had any ideas i would be soo grateful, i'm completely panicking here and any help at all would be really appreciated.

thank you in advance! x
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chloemo14
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what about something to do with the Humbert's character? examining reader response and the way in which the author shapes our reaction to him and the effect on the overall narrative/theme/purpose? I found when I read the book that I was left quite divided on my feelings towards him - after all, his despicable actions form the central plot point, but I also couldn't help but feel a slight sympathy (almost?) or if I'm honest a certain amiability about his character. It certainly complicated my response to the book and how i felt about the themes within it.....just an idea though....
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wawa1906
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how about the idea of the unreliable narrator? humbert is evidently an unreliable narrator given his apparent 'immorality' as a character. there are countless examples of this in literature, although i can't think of an appropriate one off the top of my head. ian mcewan's enduring love brings up the question of the unreliable narrator, but i'm not sure it's relevant to lolita. give it a look though. good luck
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lrkn
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Opting to write a piece of work on a book you love is rarely, if ever, a good idea. I'd say it's best to stick to fairly easily apparent combinations, or books from the same author in different periods of their life.

Why?

You've never read it with a critical slant and it's hard to suddenly lean into that, especially when you're inexperienced.
You have no idea what you want to talk about, so you'll fudge a topic to make it fit.
You're not looking at what will make a good match on a topic you do choose.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Annotated-Lo.../dp/014118504X

I'd recommend this, even if you don't study it it's a version of a book you like and you can't help but be interested by the annotations, many of which were discuss with Nabokov and the notes were written by a former student of his.
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Parker Tracy
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Ok, so questions you could look at in relation to "Lolita" - no disrespect to the previous poster here, but the notion of "unreliable narrator" is a well-worn path, and just to stop your examiner blowing his/her brains out (because there will be a LOT of dissertations on this subject) try and pick something that looks a bit more exciting. This is off the top of my head, but there are two really nice angles you could play here:

(1) "Lolita" as the anti- "great american novel". There is so much in this thesis - first off, the depiction of America is fascinating in this novel, not least because it is perceived through the outsider's eye. But we also have an anti-hero, on an anti-quest, and we still root for him. This is bad medicine for the "American dream". There's a lot here in terms of setting, plot, characterisation, ending, critique of social mores. I think a good - and relevant subject.

(2) "Lolita" as detective story. So here we are - we have Humbert, and we have Clare Quilty (clearly guilty) and we have all manner of clues scattered throughout the text by Vivian Darkbloom (or Nabokov, whichever you prefer). We have a pursuit, and we have an unmasking. To what extent does this conform to the standard format of the detective story - a crime is committed/investigation occurs/clues examined/red herrings abound/the truth is revealed and normality is restored? Again, there are plenty of opportunities to read round the text referring to other novels, and looking at the plot, characters, and literary gameplay.

I hope this helps. This is a great novel. If you've enjoyed it, I'd say go and read "Pale Fire", which, for my money is brilliant beyond measure.
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Labrador99
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(Original post by LiyoS)
Ok, so questions you could look at in relation to "Lolita" - no disrespect to the previous poster here, but the notion of "unreliable narrator" is a well-worn path, and just to stop your examiner blowing his/her brains out (because there will be a LOT of dissertations on this subject) try and pick something that looks a bit more exciting. This is off the top of my head, but there are two really nice angles you could play here:

(1) "Lolita" as the anti- "great american novel". There is so much in this thesis - first off, the depiction of America is fascinating in this novel, not least because it is perceived through the outsider's eye. But we also have an anti-hero, on an anti-quest, and we still root for him. This is bad medicine for the "American dream". There's a lot here in terms of setting, plot, characterisation, ending, critique of social mores. I think a good - and relevant subject.

(2) "Lolita" as detective story. So here we are - we have Humbert, and we have Clare Quilty (clearly guilty) and we have all manner of clues scattered throughout the text by Vivian Darkbloom (or Nabokov, whichever you prefer). We have a pursuit, and we have an unmasking. To what extent does this conform to the standard format of the detective story - a crime is committed/investigation occurs/clues examined/red herrings abound/the truth is revealed and normality is restored? Again, there are plenty of opportunities to read round the text referring to other novels, and looking at the plot, characters, and literary gameplay.

I hope this helps. This is a great novel. If you've enjoyed it, I'd say go and read "Pale Fire", which, for my money is brilliant beyond measure.
:wavey:

Thanks for being so helpful in your response! The OP is from 9 years ago now though, so I've locked the thread now
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