Book Review: Lolita

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Yeesh. This one is difficult. I finished reading on the 3rd of October already. I’m just not sure what to say. But, I need to write this review, so I can get on with my list. I’ve tried to explain the novel to a couple of people, trying to formulate my blog post through discussion, but even my words failed me. So I’ll just try to get my thoughts out – let’s hope it makes for a decent review.

In a twisted turn of events, this novel deals with the subject of sexual abuse, however, it is done through the eyes of the abuser. Yet somehow, you’re not always sure he’s the one taking advantage. In fact, there are points in the story where you genuinely feel sorry for this middle aged literature professor (Humbert Humbert), who helplessly falls in love with a twelve year old (Dolores Haze). The thing is you get the feeling that Dolores, who Humbert nicknamed Lolita, knew exactly what she was doing, and how Humbert felt. Sure, he married her mother just to stay close to her, but Lolita definitely takes advantage of Humbert’s affliction. She instigated the whole thing, although he doesn’t fight it when it gets down to it.

Yes, he is the adult. Yes, he has this predilection for pre-pubescent girls. But throughout his narration, which is very likely biased, you feel sorry for him. He tried to control it. She manipulated him, she knew how he felt. She enticed him, threatened him, used him, and abandoned him. It’s quite sad then really, when he is driven to madness and murder, because she didn’t love him back.

By saying I felt sorry for poor old Humbert, I obviously am not saying anything about the morality of the subject matter. And the way it was written makes it quite readable for most. It is never explicit or even erotic (in my mind at least). It’s really about the struggle of this man in dealing with his deep love and lust for a seductive and salacious twelve year old nymphet. It’s hard to read, but worth it, just to at least understand the pop culture references. In other words, read at own risk.

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