Original Publication: 1955
As a mother of a ten year-old girl, this book was hard to get through. And being a passionate reader that I am, I sometimes have a hard time distancing myself from what I was reading. Going into this book, I just knew that I had to try harder than usual.
Quick synopsis: Lolita is a story of a man’s obsession over a twelve-year old girl and his subsequent sexual relationship with her. He used every power he had over the girl to satisfy what was a disgusting curiosity that quickly turned into lust, packaged in the guise of love. I’d give you an en pointe play-by-play but I don’t want this review to be overdrawn.
Humbert Humbert was an unscrupulous, morally-bankrupt man who took advantage of a girl who was too young to know that she’d become a victim of a manipulative sick bastard. We can all sit here and argue that though this book has been published ages ago, the lingering effect and scars left is the sad reality of child sexual abuse.
I do want to place some of the blame on Dolores but it’s difficult when she was only a twelve year-old girl when HH caught her eye and that right to the end, she could no longer see the truth. As for HH, the weakness of a man is his ultimate demise and it couldn’t be any truer than what was depicted in this novel.
Nabokov focused on Humbert’s characterizations, leaving his readers very little insight into Dolores. As such, I found her to be a child through and through – one that never matured even if she grew to be woman in the novel. It’s unforgivable to romanticized such a relationship and reading this book in Humbert’s voice practically glorified the idea of Lolita.
My opinion: This book is heralded as one of the classics – controversial and a courageous portrayal of a man’s immoral love for a young girl. The narrative voice of Humbert tried so hard to capture the audience’s understanding and sympathy through complicated but beautiful prose. In the end, I felt what was expected: utter disgust at the impropriety of the relationship, overwrought with the need to understand and disappointment with the failure to do so.