“Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov is a unique tale of passion that delves into the psyche of a man coping with his inner lust. As one of the most banned books in the world, “Lolita” takes readers out of their comfort zone as it follows a forbidden love between two individuals: one 37 years of age, and the other 12 years. Should “Lolita” be described as pornographic filth, as many reviewers at the time of publication called it, or should it be held in high regard as a true piece of literature?
The novel opens with a disclaimer from the fictional publisher of the protagonist’s journal preparing the audience to continue on with an open mind. The main protagonist of “Lolita” is Humbert Humbert, a 37-year-old man searching for an outlet for his sexual desires. The novel is told by Humbert himself, now a prison inmate, and through his narrative, we follow the progression of how he got there.
Humbert finds himself attracted to pre-pubescent females which he describes as ‘nymphets’ and explains that not every female of that age group fits that role, and when they reach a certain age, they lose their powers over him.
Fortune finds Humbert when he rents a room from a single mother and discovers that she has a twelve-year-old daughter named Dolores – Lolita for short – who Humbert describes as a nymphet in every sense of the word.
Humbert takes every opportunity he can to grow closer mentally and physically to Lolita, and the reader starts to see Lolita return Humbert’s advances. However, the question arises, does Lolita really love Humbert back or are her actions just Humbert’s mentality trying to justify his actions?
Readers who pick up Lolita for the romance alone, or the desire to read a book with a conflicting reputation, might find themselves bored with the material. Vladimir Nabokov’s writing style is very poetic and wordy.
Humbert himself is a very egotistical man and he is quick to rant about things that displease him. Humbert often includes short quips in French, which will go over the heads of any reader with no prior knowledge of the language of love.
“Lolita” is not for everyone. Although the novel presents a fantastic taboo point of view that is not frequently shown, it is presented in way that could lose its reader’s interest early on. “Lolita” takes a serious topic, and creates a comedic drama that is very poetic. The novel is very heavy on foreshadowing, and readers might benefit from a second reading. However, I feel one read through was enough for me. I give “Lolita” a score of 7 out of 10.
“Lolita” was selected by the Roux Reads Book Club as the group read for February 2015. “Lolita” is now available to check out from the Roux. For more information on the book club, feel free to contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or ask at the Roux!