Review: Lolita

Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

published 1955 – 309 pages

From the back cover –

Awe and exhilaration – along with heartbreak and mordant wit – abound in Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov’s most famous and controversial novel, which tells the story of the aging Humbert Humbert’s obsessive, devouring, and doomed passion for the nymphet Dolores Haze.  Lolitais also the story of a hypercivilized European colliding with the cheerful barbarism of postwar America.  Most of all, it is a meditation on love – love as outrage and hallucination, madness and transformation.

My thoughts –

Ok, so I am a person who is VERY tolerant of controversial topics and ideas in books.  In fact, I tend to enjoy abnormal stuff – as long the story is interesting and the characters well-written, I don’t mind swearing, sex, violence, and I’ll definitely try reading just about anything.  In fact, books about things that would make me squeamish usually intrigue me MORE, just because I get curious and want to know what the fuss is about.

So, having said all that… I just didn’t get this book at ALL.  In a nutshell, guy falls in love with this ten-year-old girl (I truthfully cannot see how anyone can consider pedophelia “love” per se, but for the sake of argument, we’ll just call it that for now), marries her mother, a few months later the mother dies, so the guy gets to spend the next few years in a “relationshp” with his stepdaughter.  They travel the country (because of course they can’t be stationary what with all those dumb laws he is breaking), and after a few years he “lets her go” (more like she runs away with someone else) and is heartbroken forever.  Sorry to anyone I just spoiled that for, but I think most people know the gist of the story anyway.  Ok, so now that the synopsis is out of the way, somebody PLEASE explain to me what makes this book a “classic” and one of the “only convincing love stories of the century”.  Come on, the guy is a pedophile.  It’s really not beautiful, or heart-wrenching, or divine… there is no love here, there is a young girl being raped every single day by the one person she has left in her life to trust.  Beyond that, I can’t think of what else to call it and I sure can’t understand what’s so great about this story.

I did finish it though, because I wanted to see her get a mind of her own and get the heck out of this situation and find a real life for herself (sadly, she did get out but nothing good really seemed to happen to this poor girl even after leaving this “relationship”).  I wish I had something more positive to say, but it was just one of those things… I just don’t get it.  Actually I take that back about nothing positive – the writing was exquisite.  There were some very excellent passages here, and everything did flow extremely well.  However, good writing alone is not ever going to make me love a book.

I would like to say, that I would be thrilled to see a modern author write a re-telling of this story from the girl’s perspective.  Now THAT would make a good book.  Not once in this entire novel did we even have a glimmer of what her feelings were… I’d love to read a whole book dedicated to who this Lolita person really is.

Sorry for the negative review, I really hate writing these but I can’t see any other way around it.  Gotta be honest, and this book just did not do it for me.  Read at your own risk.

Also reviewed by: Becca at The Inside Cover, Nymeth at Things Mean a Lot and Maree at Just Add Books