5 Jan 2012

Literary review - Vladimir Nabokov's 'Lolita'


Published: 1955
Basic plot: The protagonist and unreliable narrator, middle-aged literature professor Humbert Humbert, is obsessed with the 12-year-old Dolores Haze, with whom he becomes sexually involved after she becomes his stepdaughter. His private nickname for Dolores is Lolita.

I just finished reading Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita for my Literature in History module. I had heard the name before, but genuinely had no idea what it was about, or about any of the controversy that surrounds it. At first I believe I had a typical reaction, influenced by a society obsessed with bringing down pedophillia (I think my generation has a more open consciousness of it than say Nabokov's, although that is only an opinion). But as I read further, I appreciated the language, the element of the unreliable narrator, the character of Lo herself, and the plot (which I did feel lacked a little at the end, or perhaps I was just eager to get it finished to move onto the next novel and couldn't really appreciate it). But moving past the question of pornography, Humbert Humbert's most beautiful descriptions are a consequence of his love for Lolita, and although the reality is a middle-aged man has sex with a 12-year old girl, Nabokov is not that graphic (I've honestly read worse e.g. the rape scene in Stieg Larsson's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo). I enjoyed this book, I read it very quickly (which is always a good sign), I wouldn't put it under my favourite books of all time, but I will look forward to discussing it in class when the next semester begins, as no-one can deny there is certainly a lot to say.

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