I read Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov without reading any reviews or conversing with anyone who had read it before. I read the blurb at the back of the book and it had a general plot outline of a romantic novel across America. I don’t usually read romances but decided to read on anyway. It is right to never judge a book by it’s cover because I was utterly appalled. After a few chapters I stopped to ask myself how a book like this ever got published. Lolita tells the story of a man called Humbert Humbert who is obsessed with a twelve year old girl called Lolita. He rapes, drugs,kidnaps and imprisons this girl throughout the book at various points. Now this book sounds like a serious and harsh read but it is not. It is a harrowing and uncomfortable read at times but most of the time I found myself admiring the prose in the book and chuckling at Humberts sheer madness as we view the world through the eyes of a maniac.
The author skillfully deals with this taboo topic. There are points in the book where he at length describes how the physical form of children and Lolita in particular appeal to him. These descriptions are disturbing but they are done in a way which does not horrify the author into closing the book. In the edition I read, there is an explanation of the novel from the author Nabokov and it is a compelling read. In it he acknowledges the sinister nature of the book but he underlines the power and strength of the book in overcoming such a massive issue. Language and wordplay are at their finest in this novel and without it I doubt a book like this would have ever gone to print. Nabokov says there is a real skill in describing lewd scenes without being lewd. There is an unusual aspect in the book where the narrator constantly addresses the reader, acknowledging that he is a maniac and a pedophile. This put me at ease reading the book as I knew that the story was not just the wild imagination and lust of pervert. He constantly reminds the reader that it is against the law to do what he is doing but he is too obsessed to stop. It also is entertaining as Humbert frequently references the dismay we must feel as a reader before continuing describe another very inappropriate scene.
Nabokov makes a valid point in his reasoning behind his masterpiece Lolita. He asks the question ‘Why would anyone want to read the allusions to the physiological urges of a pervert?’ His answer is simple, he doesn’t write didactic novels. He loathes writers who set out to teach a morale or have hidden meaning in a book. He writes simply for the love of aesthetics, that a book can be enjoyed without the reader trying to gain information about a country or social class. I agree with him entirely. Lolita is a beautiful read, it is one of the finest books I have ever read in terms of language and wordplay. It is a crazy book, maddening book where the reader asks themselves why or how they are reading the content because it is insane.
After reading a book I always feel there is something trying to be told within the book, a lesson I could learn. After reading Lolita I didn’t feel this way. I felt delighted that I had read a thing of beauty and also felt horrified that maybe people like Humber Humbert could be on the loose in the world right now. This novel is a story to be read slowly and enjoyed. One has to constantly remind themselves that the narrator is a pedaphile with no conscious but you can’t help yourself from guessing what might happen next, the story is unpredictable and follows no rhyme or reason. Everyone should read Lolita.