28 Feb Light of my Life, Lolita (by Vladimir Nabokov): A Review
I have set myself a small, non-pressured challenge to read one classic a month and, for the month of January, I picked Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. This has been a book that I’ve always wanted to read but have been somewhat intimidated by.
About the Book
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.
When I embarked on this journey of reading Lolita, I had to cast aside all the things I had already heard about it. I wanted to discover this classic on my own and on my own terms. What I found in these pages was a deep unease carried through an exquisitely written novel. I am not going to spend much time on plot and movement with this review because it’s a story that is somewhat ‘known’. However, if you’ve no idea about the plot of Lolita, then I’m hoping this might entice you to pick up a copy and give it a read.
This is the story of an incredibly ill man who, in my opinion, cannot seem to quench his thirst for young girls (or Nymphets, as he refers to them). What makes this novel so deeply disturbing is that Nabokov so accurately (or so I assume) writes the character of Humbert Humbert — he is both terribly believable and terribly mentally ill. This man tries so hard to convince the reader that what he feels and is doing is for the grandeur and motive of deep love — the kind that comes but once in a lifetime. While I can see how there are two camps of ‘this is a love story’ and ‘this is a crime in some countries’ when it comes to reviews for this title, I am certainly in the camp of ‘this is absolutely a crime, and Humbert is certainly not in love but is merely convincing himself that that’s what he’s experiencing’. Once you’ve moved past just how uncomfortable this book is, you sink deep into the long, languid sentences and prose of Nabokov. He tells this story with great efficiency, with detail vivid enough to make your skin crawl, that the reader is able to pinpoint the exact moments of where you can see yourself being ever-so-slightly swayed by the argument of Humbert Humbert. In places you feel for the man, something which makes the read even more uncomfortable.
So, yes, this book was unsettling and me squirm to read but it was so, so worth it. Read it for the pure masterpiece that it is and know that this is what a book is supposed to do. It’s supposed to make you question who and what you believe while showcasing the talent of an incredible author.
Please read this. Please. Please. Please.
I would love to know what you thought of Lolita?
4 out of 5 stars
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