Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Humbert Humbert travels to America to teach French poetry. He falls in love with the 12-year-old daughter of his landlady, Dolores Haze. He calls her his ‘Lolita’. To be closer to her, he marries the mother. But when she learns the truth she gets run over by a car. Humbert now takes his stepdaughter on a roadtrip through America during which they become intimate.

Lolita is this kind of classic everyone has heard about. “Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul.” It’s probably one of the most famous opening lines ever written. The topic is taboo. A sexual relationship between an adult man and a teenage girl. It’s so wrong. Lots of classics are said to be about topics that were sensitive at the time they were published. But this is still sensitive today. It leaves you with a wry feeling and a sour taste in your mouth.

The story opens with ‘Humbert Humbert’ writing his story from prison awaiting trial. He wants to explain his actions to the public. Humbert is an unreliable narrator and this makes for a disturbing story. He takes us back to his childhood love for a young girl of his age and his sexual desire for her that was never consummated. Ever since, he has a longing for young girls, around 12-13 year old. He calls them ‘nymphets’.

So when one day he meets dark haired (no idea why there are always blondes on the cover of this book 🤷‍♀️) Dolores, who is 12 but quite outspoken for her age, he is lost. He constantly seeks for ways to be with her. And day by day, she also warms towards him.

The writing is poetic. Nabokov creates beautiful sentences. His metaphors and images are vivid and full of detail. But this also means it’s a difficult and at times tiring book to read. The pace is slow, every sentence is a story in itself. I must admit that I began skipping parts near the end of the book. It did appreciate the writing, it’s a work of art. But it was all a bit too much.

This is rightly considered a classic. Especially as Nabokov wrote this originally in English instead of Russian. But I’ve read it now once, and for me that’s enough.

This is book 8/50 for the classics club.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Have you read Lolita yet? What did you think?

2 thoughts on “Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

  1. Lolita is one of those works that I want to read, because it is referenced so often, but that I am hesitant to start because of its subject matter – I have it on my Kindle. I’m sure I’ll get to it at some point…

    Liked by 1 person

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