‘Lolita’ by Vladimir Nabokov

lolita
Lolita
new-5-stars

Oddly named intellectual and romantic, Humbert Humbert, falls in love with Dolores Haze, his landlady’s twelve-year-old daughter. To linger in close proximity to the child, he decides to marry her mother, despite several misgivings. The partnership, naturally, does not go as planned for the hopeful lover, and Humbert begins dreaming up ways of ending the marriage by staging a drowning or some such ‘accident’, thereby relieving himself of the clingy housewife. However, events take an unexpected turn and Humbert embarks on an extended trip across America with his recently-acquired daughter…

I feel slightly ashamed that it’s taken me so long to read this book. I saw the film years ago (the Kubrick one), though don’t remember much of it, but the novel is quite another matter. The writing is superb, the style so unusual and original that it was at times hard to believe Nabokov’s native language wasn’t English. Though the subject matter is dodgy (to say the least), the author handles it well, and the (occasional) sex scenes are suggested, rather than described. It’s interesting too, that while Nabokov is obviously not writing from his own point of view, he allows his central character to retain a little dignity in his (Humbert’s) acknowledgment of the facts – that he is somewhat depraved, though not a destroyer of innocence. The author’s descriptions of post-war America are fascinating too, presenting sketches of a country and its culture in the midst of change.

Darkly comic in style, Nabokov’s wit is divine and lovingly crafted. As a novelist myself, I’ve rarely seen a book that impressed me more.

 
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