Dismissed by critics as unimportant, John Ray, Jr. emerges as a diabolical conspirator, appropriating Humbert's memoir for his own purposes. Nabokov's sly guidance in the afterword to Lolita directs the reader to ten focal images, "the subliminal co-ordinates by which the book is plotted," "secret points" strewn with covert clues to a surprising subtext. After resurrecting Quilty, Ray, as "surgeon of genius," operates on Humbert's language, thoughts, and fate. Humbert's theft of Lolita's body and life is thus mirrored by Ray's exploitation of Humbert. "Obscure indications," among them echoes of the Foreword, spectral "fingerprints," uncorrected solecisms such as Humbert's confused calendar, and "shadowgraphs" crediting Ray's contributions, taken together with Nabokov's teasing hints in interviews and repeated taunts in the novel urging close inspection of the text, lead the reader to the unmasking of Ray and the exposure of Humbert, once and for all, as false artist and insincere penitent.


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pp. 137-198
Launched on MUSE
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