A few days ago I finished re-reading Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, which not only satisfies my reading needs, but also satisfies one of my Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge 2016 categories: a book you’ve already read at least once. Lolita is one of my all-time favorite books so I’m super excited to share my feelings about it with you guys! But first, a quick summary for anyone who doesn’t already know what the book is about:
Awe and exhiliration–along with heartbreak and mordant wit–abound in Lolita, Nabokov’s most famous and controversial novel, which tells the story of the aging Humbert Humbert’s obsessive, devouring, and doomed passion for the nymphet Dolores Haze. Lolita is also the story of a hypercivilized European colliding with the cheerful barbarism of postwar America. Most of all, it is a meditation on love–love as outrage and hallucination, madness and transformation.
I know, I know. That didn’t tell you much, but that’s really all that the book is about: love, in all its sick, twisted forms. The narrator, Humbert, is a self-proclaimed pedophile who falls madly in love with underage Dolores Haze (aka Lolita) and conspires to live happily ever after with her.
First and foremost, this is one of the most beautiful books ever written. The prose is honest and the story is straightforward, but the narration is a journey. Humbert, who ironically is a writer in the novel, coalesces his thoughts into spectacular description. Through his eyes, you see the Lolita he sees and it’s almost as though you begin to understand his attraction, as horrific as it is. Furthermore, he addresses the reader in a confidential, but cheeky way that sucks you in. For example, he says, “As greater authors than I have put it: “Let readers imagine” etc. On second thought, I may as well give those imaginations a kick in the pants.” It’s humorous and captivating.
Moreover, as the story unfolds, it’s like the car crash that you can’t look away from. You’re speeding along down the highway right beside Humbert and Lolita as they embark on their journey. You want to see what happens, how Lolita fares, how Humbert degenerates mentally. You need to figure out who the mystery character is that begins to become involved in their lives.
I will say that the novel might be a tad confusing on the first read through. As Humbert’s mind begins to unravel, his thoughts grow less lucid, thus corrupting the story. Is the mystery character who Humbert believes him to be? “No, that’s unrealistic,” you say to yourself. It must be who Lolita says it is. Or is it? It just takes a little thinking, which I love!
The 1997 film Lolita is pretty good too! So go out read the novel and then watch the movie! I COMMAND IT! Go forth…
To wrap up, here are some notable quotes (and just know I really held myself back from listing too many because it’s such a poetic novel):
“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.”
“Look at this tangle of thorns.”
“But somewhere behind the raging bliss, bewildered shadows conferred….”
“…I still dwelled deep in my elected paradise – a paradise whose skies were the color of hell-flames – but still a paradise.”
Until next time, bibliophiles….