Fetishization and Neglect in the Image of Lolita

I have been trying to note every moment in the story, in which Humbert refers to Lolita in a way that describes the contours, colors, and anatomy of her body, and frankly, I have lost count. This theme is accompanied by many fetishizing characterizations of Lolita’s body, all of which seem to be trying to present Lolita in a unique and exotic way.  I believe this exoticizing effort stems from Humbert’s understanding of pre-pubescent bodies to be ‘rare’ and ‘untouchable’, inspiring him to present Lolita in an orientalist-like fashion.  Lolita’s skin color, a rosy, honey-golden, is often contrasted with pale parts of her body, most notably her breasts. Further, Humbert describes Lolita in a way that emphasizes her boney structure, referring constantly to her hips, shoulder blades, collar/cheekbones, and vertebras. This created an image in my mind that depicted Lolita as an emaciated, unevenly-tanned young girl who looked as though she had been malnourished, over-worked, and generally pitiful. I immediately was reminded of this Gauguin painting called ‘The Breton Boy’ (1889), which depicts a similarly boney, discolored, young person, albeit a boy, laying motionless in a field, mainly because Gauguin was notorious for painting young girls and boys relaxing in the nude. Continue reading