Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita is a stunning classic. It details the perverse experiences of a middle-aged professor, Humbert Humbert, on his journey to conquer a 12-year-old girl. Its subdued eroticism and pedophilic elements deem it controversial, but it is lauded as one of the greatest achievements of contemporary literature.
The novel itself is raw and unapologetic; you’ll find yourself engrossed in Humbert’s rich voice and almost sympathetic to his deviant nature. His slightly sardonic tone will thoroughly convince you of his innocence, but when you pause to ponder his rich and unassuming diction, you’ll be shocked at the brazen nuances. The writing is much more than a collection of sentences--it’s an eloquent, harmonious dance of symbols and metaphors and puns and double entendres. Text is the mere surface of an ocean of semantic complexity, and a second read of the novel will reveal stylistic flourishes you initially never noticed.
Nabokov fondles each word and arranges them in a way that seduces yet repulses. His language lingers in your mind and entraps you, but when you emerge from his carefully constructed cage of words, you’ll be left nauseated both by the content and your willingness to commiserate with Humbert.
Lolita is alluring and scandalizing. Although it’s a prison memoir, the protagonist shares no description of his punishment, which invites readers to sentence him to a fate of their liking. Whether or not they denounce his actions, however, depends on their ability to escape Nabokov’s deception.
The subject matter may be disturbing, but the novel will enchant you. It takes strength to endure the disturbing content so vividly depicted by Humbert, but completion will leave you with a sense of fulfillment. Regardless of its slyly masked depravity, Lolita is brilliant and a must-read.