“I Get Sort of Carried Away, Being So Normal And Everything”: The Oscillating Sexuality of Clare Quilty and Humbert Humbert in the Works of Nabokov, Kubrick and Lyne
Emerson Storm Fillman Richards
Abstract: This paper compares and analyses the differences between Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955) and filmic versions by Stanley Kubrick (1962) and Adrian Lyne (1994), focusing on the respective characterisations of Clare Quilty, as mediated through his encounter with Humbert Humbert at a pivotal scene at the Enchanted Hunter’s Lodge. Following an in-depth analysis of the scene in question, the article then examines Kubrick’s Lolita, exploring the homosocial undertones of Peter Sellers’s Quilty, and the attendant commentary on heteronormative culture of late 1950s/early 1960s America. Finally, Lyne’s interpretation of this encounter will be analysed to discern how a menacing Quilty alters the narrative and deviates from the previous representations, updating the social commentary to incorporate a distinctly 1990s milieu in the process. Treating the two films as iterations and/or mutations of the original literature, the article proposes a comparatist-driven analysis to discern each artist’s intentions toward the narrative as exemplified by this crucial meeting of minds.