Tuesday, January 12, 2010
*Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov
Lolita is one of those books that you're either going to love or you're going to hate. I choose the former -- it is simply superb.
I fell in love with Nabokov after reading Pale Fire, but I'd never read Lolita. Truthfully, this book has been sitting on my bookshelf for years, because I was hesitant to read it due to the subject matter. Yes, the main character is a pedophile, yes, the subject in question is 12 years old. No, I do not condone sex with children or even adult fascination with "nymphets." However, Lolita, as it turns out, is a masterpiece, an outstanding read, and my faith in Nabokov remains justified.
I won't go through the plot details, but I think this book has been much misunderstood and my suspicion is that most readers who hated this book probably either did not finish it all the way through or missed the point entirely.
Nabokov's writing is simply superb, exquisite, and all of the other superlatives you can possibly think of. The man was a genius with his use of the English language and his depiction of post-WWII American culture. I found myself reading this book very slowly so as not to miss a single word or a single nuance. His writing is filled with word play, he uses comedy to balance out the tragedy of it all, and reading the book was an experience.
In considering your feelings about Lolita, you have to remember that Humbert Humbert is an unreliable narrator at best -- very sly, self-serving and downright devious. I never at any point in time felt sorry for him, but without giving away the show, the ending of this novel (not the very end, but close to, when he meets up with Lolita after some time) was simply beautiful. Nabokov wasn't at all sanctioning pedophilia ... if you read carefully, and finish the entire book, you'll find it's just the opposite.
An amazing book, I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys a reading masterpiece...here, literature definitely shines as art to be savored and enjoyed.
linked to Cym Lowell's Book Review Party Wednesday, April 14, 2010