Lolita: a Controversial Novel
Considered the best novel of all time according to many journalists and literary geniuses, Lolita caused quite a controversy when it originally came out in 1955. Lolita is the story of a bumbling older man named Humbert Humbert and his lust and desire to find his dead lover recreated in young girls. Our narrator, Humbert himself, is quite a laughable character however he finds himself to be quite suave which as a side note is quite entertaining to read as he is such a fool but thinks of himself as a Lothario. Speaking of other L words that describe someone’s sexuality the title of the novel, Lolita, has become synonymous of a young girl who is very attractive and acts older than her age. Lolita is eventually met by our bumbling narrator as he makes his escape from Europe and realizes that she is his love, Annabel, reincarnated. At face value one could read Lolita as a creepy love story however; if one is willing to dig deeper there is much depth in this novel. The topics shown as one delves deeper give a certain insight into the human psyche on topics such as age, loss of innocence, mortality and loss of love. Due to these things shown in such elegant language amidst the backdrop of the 1950s I would positively recommend Lolita, as a teenage boy, to the majority of society, although perhaps not aged church dwellers.
The novel is quite an uncomfortable one when we first begin the reading as our creepy narrator Humbert Humbert drones on and on about his love for little girls and continually tries to justify his pedophilic actions in many ways. However, we get a glimpse into the woman, or girl I should say, that he truly loves named Lolita. She is described as the “light of [his] life and the fire of [his] loins”(Nabokov 1) very early on. When we look deeper into Humbert’s troubled psyche we see that he is trying to recreate his love, Annabel who died tragically,anew in different girls against of course the laws of France and the United States. Humbert was haunted by her until he “broke her spell by incarnating her in another” (Nabokov 16). When our bumbling main character Humbert goes to America for a change of scenery and little money he did not count on meeting the love of his life in America.
When Humbert arrives he finds refuge with a plain woman who he refers to as “Mrs. Haze” and nothing else. Haze is obviously attracted to Humbert who fancies himself attractive to the ladies however Humbert is instantly taken with Haze’s thirteen year old daughter, Dolores, also known as Lolita. Humbert cunningly bides his time and schemes to be with Lolita and even drugs her, however she wakes up and initiates sex with Humbert and their affair begins. The novel is very beautifully detailed and very decadently worded. Everything is very acutely described which is a major thing that Nabokov did to increase audience awareness of what is going on and there are so many little memorable details that stick within my head. As the novel progresses Humbert ,after marrying old Haze, eventually becomes the caretaker of Lolita and if one were to delve deeper we can see the terror that overtakes Humbert as Lolita is growing older and he thinks he can no longer love her. This is a deep thematic idea that Nabokov presents to the audience about what happens when we lose what we love in someone and is only answered tragically. Humbert also becomes intensely jealous of Lolita flirting with other boys and bribes her trying desperately to hold on to what he loves.
To conclude this review I thoroughly enjoyed this book, perhaps as it was enriched by the lovely annotations of Miss Fox, and I think that anyone who has experienced a significant loss should read this book. It really humanizes even the worst of people, a pedophile and is also witty and comical at many points that I semi-chuckled which does not occur often as I am a laugh miser. To actually humanize a creepy, bungling pedophile and to actually make the reader pity him by the end and his trauma that he experienced is really quite remarkable and identifiable with. Nabokov also masterfully uses personification and simile and metaphor constantly throughout the novel but it is the vivid imagery that he presents the reader with that captivated me. It is like a verbal alliterative piece of art that paints such a vivid picture and is also an enjoyable read as well.
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