Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta. She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms, she was always Lolita.
Hello Bookworms, I have realized that I overuse the term “the day has finally arrived” on this blog….but THE DAY HAS FINALLY ARRIVED that I review Lolita! I want to get it out into the universe that I REALLY loved this book. I discovered this controversial yet stunning piece of literature a little over two/three years ago and I don’t regret anything. Many of you have probably heard the summary and stayed away. Fair enough. I mean, stripped down the novel is about an old man who has an inappropriate obsession with a young girl. Fun fact: I read somewhere that Nabokov wished to burn his manuscript at times just because of how repulsive the character was.
Another fun fact: I found Lolita on the shelves of a bookstore on a trip I was on a few years ago. I hadn’t even noticed the version of the novel was annotated until I opened it up, but I was not disappointed. If any of you are planning on reading this I would highly recommend an annotated version.
Genre: Fiction, Classic, Literature
Publisher: Published 1995 by Penguin (first published 1955)
Length: Paperback, 331 pages
Just a heads up, this review is going to be all over the place, because that’s just how my mind was when I was reading it! I am going to start by saying that this book is incredibly disturbing. I am going to drone on and on about how beautifully it was written, and all the other incredible aspects of this book, but keep in mind it is VERY hard to read.
Summary: Humbert Humbert – scholar, aesthete and romantic – has fallen completely and utterly in love with Lolita Haze, his landlady’s gum-snapping, silky skinned twelve-year-old daughter. Reluctantly agreeing to marry Mrs Haze just to be close to Lolita, Humbert suffers greatly in the pursuit of romance; but when Lo herself starts looking for attention elsewhere, he will carry her off on a desperate cross-country misadventure, all in the name of Love. Hilarious, flamboyant, heart-breaking and full of ingenious word play, Lolita is an immaculate, unforgettable masterpiece of obsession, delusion and lust. (goodreads)
To those who refuse to read the book because the protagonist is a pedophile, I don’t blame you. But do not judge those who do read it, because while a book portrays something, it does not mean it condones it. Anyone who has read Lolita knows that one of the greatest achievements in this novel is that Nabokov makes the reader sympathize with Humbert. We find ourselves feeling empathetic albeit we all know Humbert is a monster. The readers understand his actions are wrong, but to some degree, they understand it.
I fell in love with this book after the first paragraph. Reading Nabokov’s words, I pondered how one could manipulate the English language in such a beautiful way. The language and the prose are all simultaneously disturbing but brilliant. In short, it’s a masterpiece.
And the rest is rust and stardust.
This book forces the reader to digest each word they read. The writing is so incredibly stylistic that I re-read almost every page before moving on to the next. I have not read another piece of literature(nor do I think I ever will) where the words so elegantly flew across the page, taking the reader with it. Here’s a piece of writing advice that Nabokov gave to his students in the introduction to Lectures on Literature: “Caress the details, the divine details!”. Lolita is proof of this advice. This novel is nothing if not bursting with details.
I’ll avow that there are some parts of the book that took me a VERY long time to read, or I just flat-out skipped them because of how unpleasant they were. SPOILER : (Some sections detailing Delores’ rape are simply where I draw the line.)
The brilliant thing about Lolita is that it will never cease to be relevant. Nabokov handles this uncomfortable subject matter in the best way possible, by shoving it in readers’ faces.
Although Lolita is far from an easy read, I would recommend this book if you are looking for a thought–provoking novel. And what better book to read than one that is arguably one of the prime achievements in 20th-century literature?
It was love at first sight, at last sight, at ever and ever sight.
A little about the author: Vladimir Nabokov, in full Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov, (born April 22, 1899, St. Petersburg, Russia—died July 2, 1977, Montreux, Switzerland), Russian-born American novelist and critic, the foremost of the post-1917 émigré authors. (britannica)
This book is not for everyone. Some love it, some hate it and that’s okay.