I may have mentioned I love Baroque music. Here is J.S. Bach's Trio Sonata in C Major BWV 529.
And if any of you are wondering what happened to the dust jacket of my book, let me introduce you to the culprit:
In the line up we have Mrs. Oliver on the left and Lt. Columbo on the right, but who is that in the middle trying to hide?
I believe it is Miss Lemon, my serial book nibbler.
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This was a book I was never interested in reading, but a fellow blogger made a comment about the book that persuaded me to give it a try.
Is Nabakov a powerful, eloquent writer? Sure. Is the subject matter horrible? Yes.
I have a number of opinions about this book. If something is brilliantly written, does that justify the subject matter? Am I a better person for having read this book? Am I a smarter person? Was this book a valuable addition to my library?
The answer is no. All I can say is that I now have read a very famous and controversial book. When I was young that was the motive for reading a lot of books. I think that is why most people read 50 Shades of Grey. They read it so they can say they read it. They're on the "in", not on the "out".
At my age, I no longer care what anyone else is reading.
As most people already know, the book is about a forty-something man who has a fixation on barely pubescent girls, nymphets, he calls them. He explains it as some kind of unrequited love from when he was a pubescent boy and loved a girl his age. He is hungering for something out of reach.
He is European, but travels to America and moves in with a woman and this is where he meets Delores Haze, his Lolita. A weird series of events leads him to becoming the guardian of Delores, he marries the mother and she is killed through a freak accident, and he basically kidnaps Delores and travels around the country in order to escape detection.
Delores is at his mercy and has to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants, wherever he wants, like in a classroom at one time, but mostly hotel rooms.
Nabokov reveals a lot in his first person narrative. The man, Humbert, hears Delores sobbing at night, but makes no comment rather than report it. It's little remarks like that that fill you with horror for this little girl.
Humbert tries to appease her by buying her all sorts of gifts and ice cream, things that a twelve year old would want. And Delores occasionally gets the upper hand.
One wonders what exactly Humbert saw in Delores, other than her age, sex, and helplessness. He honestly describes her as rude, stupid, dirty, she doesn't shower or wash her face, her nails are torn and dirty. Her clothes are unclean. I doubt that is how the actresses who portrayed her in the movies looked. I think Nabokov wanted us to see just how perverse Humbert is. There's nothing all that appealing about Delores.
Sometimes Humbert blathers. He really gets wrapped up in his own narcissistic eloquence.
But I find myself rooting for Delores and praying for her escape.
The final justice is in the end when Humbert finally realizes that for all of his obsession, he was never someone of any importance to Lolita. Hardly a blip on her map.
Now I do not know what kind of research Nabokov did on Sociopaths, but I doubt many of them bother justifying their actions the way Humbert did and I doubt any of them think as poetically as he did. Most of them think and act like animals. Worse than animals. Animals don't imprison other animals for their personal pleasure.
People can gush about this book but they need to look real sex criminals in the eye like the bus driver who kept those poor girls prisoner in his house all those years. That's how they really are. In fact Delores is based on a real person, eleven year old Sally Horner who was abducted in 1948, although Nabokov denied this.
I've read reviews that call this book "wickedly funny". I fail to see the humor. I cannot forget what sort of person is narrating the story.
Why did Nabokov write a book like this? Supposedly he explains at the end of my edition. When I finished reading it, I still did not understand why someone would find such a topic so alluring.
I guess if someone writes something well, it doesn't matter how gruesome the topic is.
Actually I don't guess. Because of this book, I hesitate to read another Nabokov.
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