Review: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Since reading My Dark Vanessa, the consistent mentions of the classic, Lolita, had me desperate to read it! I was looking for something just as disturbing, if not more so due to the underage element being even more extreme.
One of the most controversial books of the 1900s, Lolita tells the troubling love story of poet, Humbert Humbert. He marries Dolores Haze just to become closer to her twelve-year-old daughter, Lolita. He becomes sexually involved with his stepdaughter, resulting in a massive divide in opinion when it comes to this classic.
I have always been on the hunt for books that border on the unreadable, due to their promiscuity or how extreme they go when it comes to sore subject matters. I wasn't sure what to expect with Lolita, as being a classic, I thought it would be more modest in it's approach. The book in no way shielded away from fully immersing the reader in Humbert's disturbing thoughts and actions.
The surrounding controversy around Lolita is understandable. Readers like myself who enjoy the novels that are often criticised for being too bold, would love something this daring. However, others have vowed to never read Vladimir Nabokov's work as they expect he must have been a paedophile to have written a book about one from a first person perspective. Equally, reading a storyline where not necessarily the author is guilty, but the main character is, results in some readers being similarly disturbed and uncomfortable.
Having the book written from a first person perspective (and having Humbert often refer to his stream of consciousness as though he was addressing his diary), truly pushes the reader to see everything from his perspective. Reading the diary of someone we are programmed to demonise, creates a reader experience unlike any other I have had. Humbert's quirky personality forces a confusing narrative within ones thoughts when trying to process the underlying sickness he has. You continuously have to remind yourself that you shouldn't like the protagonist, but that's hard to do when the whole storyline is from his point of view and his wit and goofiness is often charming. I enjoyed the constant push and pull you have with yourself throughout the duration. It creates a tumultuous reading experience, as opposed to just having a nice time reading a story. I was truly blown away by Nabokov's writing. Every sentence felt like a masterclass in how you should write a sentence! For my personal preferences however, some of Humbert's long rants throughout the chapters somewhat lessened my enjoyment. Massive blocks of text that were just thoughts (and no dialogue or plot points), resulted in the pages never being broken up; this felt monotonous when you weren't heavily concentrating.
If you have always had a curiosity about this book, put your fears aside and pick this up! I would also suggest it to anyone who read and enjoyed My Dark Vanessa as the constant references of Lolita throughout make this a must read to deepen your understanding of Jacob's character and his relationship with Vanessa.
Rating: 4 stars
Publication Date: 1955 (my edition: 3 February 2000)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Genres: Classics, Fiction
# of Pages: 331