Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins…
As the title and opening line suggests, this is an uncomfortable book to read. In fact Lolita is one of the hardest books I’ve ever read.
The haunting yearnings of a middle aged man for his pre-pubescent 12 year old step daughter.
Scandalous even now, I can’t imagine the furore it would have caused when it first came out.
I felt I was peering into the very mind of a paedophile. It provides intimate descriptions of the accidental touches, sniffing and caressing of his ‘nymphet’ before he manages to consumate his fantasy into reality.
I’m no book review critic but upon finally finishing it ( 7 tortuous days) I was left wondering why it was on the top 100 literature list.
I suspect the infamy of it’s content has raised it’s high above the parapet it really deserves.
I found it so hard to read a book full of French colloquialisms and random waffling. Constant drifting from thought to thought. Referring directly to the reader throughout it doesn’t really achieve the connection it seeks to make.
I know this isn’t an autobiographical book but such is the skill of Vladimir Nabokov that you really are left feeling this is an intimate depiction of his own thoughts and experiences.
How a book can have such a reprehensible character yet retain an audience is puzzling to me. It seems to draw you in with morbid curiosity as to how a young girl could fall into the clutches of a moral-less and despicable man so easily. He proclaims suffocating despair, regrets and sorrow while at the same time licks his lips with glee at the activities he’s shared with his precious Lolita, his nymphet. It is in a word, unsettling. Lolita is not loved for who she is but what she appears in his fantasies.
The conclusion leaves nothing but a bitter taste in your mouth and it took gumption to finish it. I struggled to understand the importance or relevance of such a book.
If anything at all Lolita provides insight to the the psychiatric make up of a diabolically lecherous man and a young girl on the verge of understanding her own sensuality, using sex to explore and express herself.
I can understand why many tried to ban it when it first came out but it is important that works such as this exist and continue to be read. Even if it is only to better understand the illness that continues to plague many nromal appearing men today. What’s most disturbing about the book, is that it’s so realistic. It could happen. It has happened and will continue to happen.
If you think you are unshockable I challenge you to read it. I couldnt help but flinch at some of the prose but I feel all the more stronger for it.
Challenging yourself by reading a emotionally testing book can be even more gratifying then reading for sheer pleasure.
At the end of day, when the book is finished, the last page is closed and its back on the shelf the words last far longer in the mind. It’s what you do with them that counts. As for me, I’ll never look at young girl and a grown man together the same way again.