Lolita, 50th Anniversary Edition
A soaring prose masterpiece. Wicked, hilarious (especially in its humrous juxtapositions of Old Europe and New America; it is a throughly satirical yet affectionate travelouge), and sublime. Lolita is a morally rich catalouge of cruelty that cannot be ignored. A love story, it is not.
For years, I had wanted to read this novel because I have only ever heard good things about it. This was a fantastic book, and I was not disappointed. The quick descent into a jealous madness was evident, and when Dolores finally left Humbert, I was relieved and glad for her. I couldn't help but be disgusted by him, and yet, I pitied him, in the way one might pity a person who doesn't realize he causes his own distress. It was a fantastic read and well worth all the hype around it.
Even as he is describing and defending the unthinkable, surprisingly, Humbert manages to evoke a sense of pity from me, and I felt myself almost wishing for Delores to be nicer to him. These were points at which I forgot that Lolita was a child; her actions and attitudes resembled someone much older. I feel sure that this is due to the way that she had to cope with the situation she was put in.
In the last pages of the book Humbert, reaching a point of honesty, shows us an untainted view of Lolita. Not how he saw her through his veil of "love", but as she was: a child, coping with the fact that she was dragged into a situation that would emotionally cripple most people. Who can blame her for being sullen and manipulative?
I think that there are quite a few pages that could be removed from the 2nd half in order to improve the story... Old Humbert seems incapable of giving only one or two examples of whatever he may be describing, and ventures into the realm of "too much information". I don't mean graphic information, as one would expect, there is almost none of that, but rather tedious external descriptive information. My (one) example is of the name-game played via hotel registry. I got the point after a couple of instances, but the names just kept coming for what felt like forever.
This was an intriguing glimpse into the mind of a pedophile, and what lengths he would go to for the object of his love.
Lolita is at times uncomfortable and upsetting to read, but it is suppose to be. Our narrative Humbert Humbert is a pedophile, he is aware what he likes is wrong and that acting on them makes him a monster. He does try to defend himself at times by putting the blame onto Lolita and other young girls for being seductive, but overall he straight up admits its all in his sick mind. That reason alone made me like this book. I liked that the sexual scenes were not put into great detail, the reader knows Humbert is buying Dolores things and letting her do things she wants in return for sexual favors, the detail of the sexual favors are not there and I greatly appreciate that. So why is the book so uncomfortable? Because it is written as a memoir from a pedophile’s point of view, Humbert is fully aware how he is ruining Dolores’ life, but continues on. Dolores isn’t even likable, but that doesn’t matter at all because what is happening to her is just awful. I did get kind of confused towards the end when she escapes. I first thought he was just being paranoid since he was breaking down mentally for a few chapters already and then Humbert suggest the reader already knows who took Dolores. No clues. But it all wraps up and it is explained what happened and Humbert seeks revenge. I also enjoyed you know from the beginning he is in jail, why he is writing his memoir and why they are released.
So I’m left with questions after finally reading Lolita. How did the word lolita come to mean a underage girl who seduces older men. Dolores did no such thing, and if you are refering to her initiating the first time they had sex, he is still a grown ass man and she was a child, a child cannot seduce someone. It’s disgusting people see it that way. It terrifies me people label Lolita as a romance book. Did you read the same book I did? Good lord. Why are so many of the covers of Lolita sexualizing a young girl? These questions are what kept me from reading Lolita for so long and now after reading the book I do not have an answer to them and just makes me question these issues even more so.
Nabokov says in his "behind" (rather then in the forward) "...There are at least three themes which are utterly taboo as far as most American publishers are concerned. The two others are: A Negro-White marriage which is a complete and glorious success resulting in lots of children and grandchildren; and the total atheist who lives a happy and useful life, and dies in his sleep at the age of 106".
I would gladly read the "two others" as well.