Friday, November 12, 2010

Just Finished Reading: Lolita

This was my third attempt at reading Vladimir Nobokov's famous novel Lolita. The first two times I tried to read it, I always got to Part Two, then got bored and moved on to something else. This time, however, I finished the whole book in a few days. Part One of the book is the most famous and well known part with Humbert Humbert pining for the 12 year old nymphet Dolores Haze. Humbert rents a room in the Haze house after spotting young Lolita, then forms a relationship with Lolita's mother in order to stay in the house, and in return, stay close to Lolita. What makes this book really creepy is that it is from Humbert's point of view. He sees nothing wrong with his feelings and actions towards this 12 year old girl, and since he is the narrator, we are led to somewhat sympathize with him even though he is a predatorial pedophile creep. He goes as far as to marry Lolita's mother, then fantasizes about ways to kill her, especially after hearing of her plan to send her to a boarding school after summer camp, then off to college. He gets a touch of luck (is luck the right word?), though, when the now Mrs. Humbert gets hit by a car. Immediately afterwords he drives to Lolita's camp and takes her to a few hotels. The first night he does nothing because his attempts to drug her fail, but the second night is when he gets his way with her. The book doesn't go into detail about the act, which doesn't really suprise me considering that this book was first published in 1955. The subject matter is taboo to this day, and this book was extremely controversial when it came out, so if Nobokov did go into detail, this book never would have gotten published back in 1955. Anyways, the second half of the book is Lolita and Humbert driving around the county then finally setting down in a place where Lolita goes to an all girls school. Here Humbert deals with issues of boys, Lolita getting older, and the fear of getting caught. He objects to Lolita appearing in a school play, and ends up pulling her out of school a week before the show to drive across country again, which leads to her eventually running away. He then spends the next few years searching for her, only finding her when she writes him a letter telling him that she is married, pregnant, and asks for money. There he finds out that it was a man named Clare Quilty who took Lolita away from him, a man that she had had a crush on since before she knew Humbert. He then goes to Quilty's house and kills him. Throughout the entire book it is known that Humbert has been convicted of a crime, but it doesn't say what. At first guess, you would think it would be child molestation or statutory rape, but later in the book you find out that its murder, but you don't know who. Is it Lolita, Lolita's mom, Lolita's husband? I saw Stanley Kubricks film version of Lolita before reading this, so I already knew who he killed, but in the movie Quilty is a lot more prevalent. He sort of comes out of nowhere in the book, so I liked how his character was expanded in the movie. So, even though the last thing people want to do is sympathize with a pedophile, I really liked this book, and can see why it is considered a masterpiece. It is first and foremost a love story because even though Lo is from the ages of 12 to 17 in this book, it is made apparent that Humbert really loves her and is oblivious to the fact that he was doing something wrong because in his eyes it felt so right. Having said that, he deserved to get shot himself for being a damn dirty pedophile creeper.

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