Sunday, January 21, 2007

6. Lolita ~ Vladimir Nabokov

Longtime readers of this blog may have noticed that Lolita has been in the "refrigerator" several times over the past year. The novel has alternately gathered dust and been wiped clean as I have attempted to dissect it.

That was my error. This is not a book that can be analyzed or scrutinized. It is a book that one must read for the emotional value alone.

And what a range. What prevented me from pressing through the novel was the main character, Humbert Humbert, and his absolute obsession with "nymphets" - prepubescent girls. Particularly, his fascination with Dolores Haze, the daughter of his landlord.

Humbert's observations are romantic - if you forget that he's waxing words over a pre-teen. The tug-of-war of language and the emotions it evokes made this difficult to read. We are bred to despise child molestors (and with good reason); however, I teased office workers and tricked bar goers when I was 14, 15. Is there not blame in Dolly's behavior?

Once the emotional wrestling ended in the second half of the book, I could relax into the tale. As Nabokov has said, "Certain techniques in the beginning of Lolita misled some of the first readers into assuming this was going to be a lewd book." I won't go so far as Vanity Fair's assessment - "the only convincing love story of our century" - but these are two of the most complex characters in literature. Measure your reaction to Humbert as the brilliance of Nabokov's abilities.

4.0 out of 5.0 X-Rated Flirtinis.

Banned Book: Obvious thematical elements.


Bibliolatrist said...

Finally!! I've been waiting for you to finish this one. Wait a few years and reread it - it gets better and better every time.

Jason said...

Lolita is an amazing book. The language alone could make a writer give it all up in hopelessness of never equalling it.

But then, we all can't be Nabokov. Maybe just trying not to be Dan Brown is enough.

Diana said...

It's one of my favorites, too. It does get better every time you read it. It's especially fantastic when you're reading along with the Jeremy Irons audiobook. That's heaven!