When I try to analyze my own cravings, motives, actions and so forth, I surrender to a sort of retrospective imagination which feeds the analytic faculty with boundless alternatives and which causes each visualized rout to fork and re-fork without end in the maddeningly complex prospect of my past (Nabokov, 13).
Here in this passage, Humbert Humbert describes his obsession with wanting to have done things differently, or imagining the way things could have been, had the events in his life occurred differently. This is a prime characteristic of Humbert Humbert that adds to his “gamesmanship” mentality. This desire to change the course of his past is futile, and yet he continues to obsess with the “could have beens” and “only ifs.” The death of Annabel was an event that was unavoidable and irreversible. This is the kind of situation that Humbert Humbert is unwilling to accept. Perhaps, the death of his childhood love, (whether it was really love, lust, or simple infatuation), left Humbert Humbert mentally stagnant. Just as a child is unwilling to accept that it is bed time, or that his/her birthday party is over.