Humbert the Child-Hound

Lolita is full of Humbert Humbert's references to himself as something other than he appears to be. He is often an animal ('sad-eyed degenerate cur'), but he is also not a man:

  • He reveals, in a way that anticipates surprise, that he is actually quite handsome, with handsomeness indicating a participation in the normal life of society, and the surprise an indication that this is a facade.
  • He has an 'adult disguise', implying that he is at heart the same boy-child ('fawnet') who fell in love with Anabel.
  • He seems to enjoy relating the psychiatrist's notes about himself, that he is '"possibly homosexual"' and a '"pervert"'.

He believes he is not really a man, and perhaps this is a strand of his long and complex arguement for his own soul. Not for his innocence, because he knows he is corrupt, but this theme, non-humanity, is perhaps a mitigation. He clearly mitigates against real, criminal guilt in his sofa-liason that is not a liason:

[...] I want them to examine its every detail and see for themselves how careful, how chaste the whole wine-sweet event is [...]

Yet there is more to it than pure defence against charges of criminality. Amidst his talk of sleeping pills he says "and yet Lolita was safe -- and I was safe." Which is emphasised more here? I'm not sure it's clear, but he undermins any argument for his morality by subsequently saying:

I intended, with the most fervent force and foresight, to protect the purity of that twelve-year-old child.

This reads as a defence testimony. I'm far from sure he isn't just a cur, frantically dodging the judges boot that tries to kick him away for 15 years.