Genre: Fiction, Romance, Perve-y

Notes: I’ve never seen the movie, but just reading the book kind of grosses me out.  It’s absolutely beautifully written, but I mean, it’s an old man in love with a  12-year-old.

Review: Humbert Humbert likes them young.  Not like, “I’m 40 and I want to marry a 20-year-old” but “I’m 40 and I want a girl between the ages of nine and 14.”  Seriously.  There are graphic details of little girls who live in his neighborhood and how attractive Humbert finds them.  He’s a “nymphet-manic.”  Mmm, girls before they have hips, boobs, or any other sort of after-puberty characteristics.  Awesome.

Nabokov’s book is beautifully written.  It is incredibly believable  and, if you can forget Lolita is like twelve when she and Humbert first have sex, it reads like a romance.  I can’t forget Lolita is twelve, especially the way Humbert describes her body, but the novel has a way of pulling you in and not letting go.  Only a truly gifted author could make pedophilia a legitimate literary classic.

“Lolita” will make you laugh while simultaneously making you grimace.  Nabokov writes brilliant turns of phrases, literary puns, and fascinating views on life.  It’s amazing he could write so brilliantly in English while he spoke Russian for most of his life.

Humbert describes Lolita as a nymphet, someone who exudes sexuality when she walks and breathes around him.  According to Humbert, Lolita seduced him and wanted it as much as he wanted her.  You know, she shook those hipless hips. And clomped over in those saddle shoes.  As weird as disturbing as it is, though, Humbert Humbert really thinks he loves Lolita.  But Lolita doesn’t conform to his idea of an ideal lover, or even an ideal child.  She bucks under his rule and rebels against his controlling hand.  Unsurprisingly, she has some pretty serious daddy issues as he father died (left her? I never really figured that out) at a young age and her step father (Yes, Humbert married her mother) has sex with her on a daily basis.

Nabokov’s novel shows the insanity and craziness of love.  And lust.  We will do anything to get what we want, no matter how twisted.  We justify our choices and lie to ourselves to hide the blackest parts of our personality from the world and from ourselves.  If Humbert Humbert can justify having a relationship with a child, how easy is it to justify our past romantic judgements?  Nabokov takes an extreme example to show human’s at their most basic level.  It is easy to judge Humbert, but how many times have you lied to yourself?  How many times do you convince yourself the questionable course of action was the only one available?

Bottom Line: “Lolita” is a little disturbing, but I can see why it is a literary treasure.  Nabokov dazzles readers with his brilliance and his ability to make an unpalatable subject fascinating.  Highly recommend.