Friday, 23 September 2016

On Books | Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov

I am trying not to make a habit of this, but I borrowed this book from my Nan who has never read it and it was a gorgeous copy. Leather bound and only with the writing in gold embossed lettering on the side. Yet I returned it without a photo. I'm sorry, I'm sorry.

I am just going to start this by being completely honest. The cover was probably my favourite part about this book. It had been on my list for years and years. It is known as one of those books; you know, if you haven't read it, what have you read, type of thing.
And it was just plain weird. 

The story follows Humbert Humbert, a fully grown man who has quite a piqued interest in what are referred to as nymphets, young girls. He then falls in love with Lolita, the daughter of the womant hat becomes his landlady and eventually his wife. At the beginning, Lolita is 14.
I have not given away any huge spoilers here; you can see it all happening. But for a large majority of the book I felt quite uncomfortable reading it. Humbert is an academic, a highly intelligent and respected man, yet the book follows him stumbling through sex and relationships with teenage girls. 

The writing was very good, albeit at times hard to follow what was actually happening. The story also jumped around and had a tendency to become confused. 
At the end of the book Nabokov writes himself that Humbert will probably not be liked as a character, but that this was not his intention. And it is true, he is not particularly likeable, yet there is something about him that is entertaining. 

What was really nice about the book were the references to literature, and the wittiness behind Nabokov's writing. However the story itself was just plain weird and uncomfortable. Considering that this book was writtin in the 1950s, to an audience that was far more close-minded than what we have today, I find it very surprising that my views seem to be in the majority.
I am glad I have read it, however I would not particularly recommend it. Lolita contains good writing and good character building, but much of the book makes for some uncomfortable reading (especially as a woman!) 

Yet, I can see that this book makes for good discussion. Nabokov writes Humbert's character as one that should repulse and offend. Yet he doesn't all the time. It is only when you really think about what you are reading that this does come across. The relationship and how it is developed between him and Lolita is an in-depth study of the workings behind adult-child relationships. It is merely that this one is very unconventional and not my by any means normal. 
Nabokov has managed to write a psychologically problemed person into someone that does pique our interest. Despite this, I cannot say that I particularly enjoyed the book. 

I have looked into this book a lot and would be interested in opinions and thoughts if you've read it!

Have you read Lolita?