Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

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RATING: 3/5

BLURB: “Humbert Humbert is a middle-aged, frustrated college professor. In love with his landlady’s twelve-year-old daughter Lolita, he’ll do anything to possess her. Unable and unwilling to stop himself, he is prepared to commit any crime to get what he wants. Is he in love or insane? A silver-tongued poet or a pervert? A tortured soul or a monster? Or is he all of these?”

REVIEW: Due to the sensitive topic matter and the nature of the writing style, it is difficult to write an objective and clear review of this infamous novel. Humbert Humbert’s (HH) story is told through his eyes, detailing his relationship with the twelve-year-old Lolita, which begins when he becomes a lodger in the home she shares with the novel. Even before he meets Lolita, the reader is told by HH of his predilection for young girls, whom he terms ‘nymphets’, and is disturbed to read of how he watches them in parks, school, etc. We already know, therefore, that he is a danger to Lolita as soon as they meet. When HH ends up married to Lolita’s mother, the ends he will go to to achieve his desire become even more shocking for the reader, and end in Lolita’s mother’s death and a whirlwind trip around America for HH and his nymphet. It is difficult to say much more about the book without giving away too much of the various plot twists and the complexities of both HH’s character and Lolita’s, who is surprising in many ways to any reader who already had previous conceptions of what she might be like before starting the novel. I would caution anyone who plans to read the novel that although it is gripping, it is also extremely disturbing to a modern reader when there are such strong views against childhood sexuality present in our current society, and rightly so. I did find many parts of the novel to be extremely upsetting, but can also appreciate that Nabokov’s writing talent really shines through here; his writing reflects the psychopathic nature of HH himself, as it  is often fragmented and complex to understand. I would recommend it based on Nabokov’s writing, but not necessarily based on the highly sensitive subject matter.

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