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Discuss Lolita as the last document of a condemned man. Compare this to The Stranger. In both of these novels the main character is a morally compromised man, who ends up in prison for his actions.
Compare the prose style of The Stranger with that of Lolita. How does this difference in prose style reflect upon the characters and their crimes. Both are post-war books. How does the difference in the prose style reflect the author’s differing post-war experience.
Compare Lolita is in some ways an American Road story such as Kerouac’s On the Road, or William Least Heat Moon’s Blue Highways, or Steinbeck’s Travels with Charlie. Road stories are generally picaresques and often involve a quest theme, although not always. Discuss Lolita and how it fits into the picaresque or quest category, if you think it does.
Lolita is sometimes considered an aesthetic novel. In other words the luxury of the prose, the philosophical and psychological attitude taken by Humbert towards his life seems to illustrate the aesthetic philosophy. Is this true? You might want to make comparisons to Dorian Gray.
Discus the idea of social alienation, i.e. not fitting into the culture in which you find yourself. Social alienation of plays a role in both Lolita and Chronicle of a Death Foretold. It is also a theme in The Stranger. In either of these cases how does the alienation experienced by the character reflect that of the author?
Do a research project on Lolita in which you focus on one aspect of the story and research the background through references and critical material. Some possibilities would be the relationship between Lolita and Nabokov’s personal life, his aesthetics, his influences, his own research on the novel, themes of his other novels,
Compare the written novel Lolita to the two different film versions of the story: Stanley Kubrick and Adrian Lynn. How does the film version alter the “message” of the story? What aspects are changed? What is lost or gained in the editing process? Can film do justice to literature?
Lolita has a number of gothic elements in it. Compare the use of the gothic in Lolita to other novels we have read, such as Frankenstein or Dorian Gray.
Discuss the idea of social complicity in Lolita, and compare it to Marquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold. In both of these novels, and even in Dorian Gray, the society is in some ways complicit in the crimes that take place.
Compare the social criticism that takes place in Lolita with that of Dorian Gray. Both novels have a character who is particularly disdainful of the society they live in.
Discuss the concept of “honor” in relation to murder. In Lolita and Chronicle of a Death Foretold the murders might is some sense be related to defending the honor of another character. This topic could also be discussed in relation to The Stranger. When is honor an appropriate excuse for killing?
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