By Bruce 10 Comments
Recommended by a friend, I finally got around to buying the novel Saturday afternoon. I finished reading the book an hour ago. If you're keeping track, I read the entire thing in two days and some odd hours. This is not an amazing feat; I know of an English teacher in the department where I hang out that finished War and Peace over the course of a three day jury duty.
However, I am different in my reading method...Lazy, you could call it. Typically, my reading is limited to a few chapters a day, and if I'm lucky, a novel or two every other month. But something about Lolita gripped me, and I did not regret the six hour reading sessions that were only disturbed by Pokemon Platinum interspersed for twenty minute breaks. In the end, I felt sorry for Humbert. When reading the wiki page following my completion of the book, mainly looking at the reception article, one female critic had noted that it was "Not about a weak child used by an evil man, but a weak man used by an evil child." This was the sentiment that I took away from the book. Don't allow the taboo subject matter to deter you; this is not pornography. I thought going in that I was going to be preached to, told of the glorious wonders of nymphet-relationships, and instead I discovered a story that minus the whole "I am abusing a child thing" can probably relate to anyone in a truly loveless relationship blinded by lust or "true love" to use a bullshit term that suits Humbert's case. And in the end, you honestly feel sympathy for the guy, even when understanding that he truly destroyed a (not so innocent-after-all in her manipulation) child.
The novel has some flaws. As a creative writer, who hopes to one day be published, I work with an English Prof. every now and then who has taught me many things about "Good" and "Bad" writing. The first thing that comes to mind from his lessons that I can apply to this novel is something he likes to call, "Masturbating with Words." Using this term, Nabokov would be considered a chronic sufferer, his hand must have been a claw only matched by an eagle. His imagery, and straight-up-tedious depiction of every-single-fucking blade of grass and other insignificant detail (Which is joked about later in the novel by the narrator himself as being excessive) can at times be a bit much. Also, the novel almost assumes that you know French fluently, with key phrases and references to French history and literature being thrown in at nearly every excuse to call for it. (The narrator makes a joke about this later in the novel as well) There was also a plot twist near the end that was a tad...bullshit, for lack of a better word; it turned the novel, for at least four or five chapters, into a rather mundane case of paranoid "Catch me if you Can/Who Done It?" But once Lolita returned to form in the final chapters, that is where I forgave all, and appreciated it for the true classic it is.
Bruce's Score: Must read.
Things to watch out for: Taboo subject that some might find disturbing; Incredibly thick and imagery heavy writing; The aforementioned mediocre plot twist toward the end; At least fifty or so words that you have never heard or seen before in your life. (It might be a bit too difficult for younger readers)
All in all, I recommend it quite strongly; it is one of the best novels I have ever read.