Humbert Humbert – scholar, aesthete and romantic – has fallen completely and utterly in love with Lolita Haze, his landlady’s gum-snapping, silky skinned twelve-year-old daughter. Reluctantly agreeing to marry Mrs Haze just to be close to Lolita, Humbert suffers greatly in the pursuit of romance; but when Lo herself starts looking for attention elsewhere, he will carry her off on a desperate cross-country misadventure, all in the name of Love. Hilarious, flamboyant, heart-breaking and full of ingenious word play, Lolita is an immaculate, unforgettable masterpiece of obsession, delusion and lust.
I have no idea how to write this review. I’ve given the book 4 stars, but I don’t know if I mean it. What the heck did I think about it? Did I enjoy it or not?
I hate the topic, and that’s kind of all I’m sure about. I hate that Humbert is such a creep. He’s a paedophilic rapist, and yeah, that’s creepy, but it’s even creepier if you think about how weird it would be even if Lolita was his age. Watching her get changed? Stroking her leg on the couch? Marrying her mother so he can have sex with her? Is no one seeing a problem with this? Every single thing Humbert does in relation to Lolita makes me want to throw up. It’s why this book took me so long to read – I actually had to stop and physically shudder every few pages. Lolita’s pains were barely explored, which is terrible considering the situation she was in. I wanted to hug the poor thing, but it was hard when there was such obvious victim blaming. But I’ll get to that. It made the book really hard to feel motivated to pick it up to read, even knowing I had a school deadline to have it read by. I ended up getting it done a week too late, oops.
The thing is, the actual writing was amazing. Let’s quote me; “I actually had to stop and physically shudder every few pages.” This author was so spectacular that he made me feel all this emotion over something that was obviously fictional. He was so inside the head of Humbert that you really felt you were listening to him tell you his story about Lolita. Yes, there was arguably victim blaming, but it was written from the rapist, should I be surprised? Her pain was brushed over because in his eyes (and therefore ours), it didn’t exist. How could she not be happy when he loved her so much? He was creepy and disgusting, and I loved it. It was amazing getting into the head of someone so sick and twisted, because that’s something you can never understand otherwise. Don’t worry, there was no way I was ever going to sympathise with him, but I understood why he felt justified.
As well as that, the language was beautiful. Let’s pretend for a second that Lolita isn’t 12 (I know – twelve!). How romantic is this?
“It was love at first sight, at last sight, at ever and ever sight.”
“I knew I had fallen in love with Lolita forever; but I also knew she would not be forever Lolita.”
“We live not only in a world of thoughts, but also in a world of things. Words without experience are meaningless.”
Do you see what I mean? He’s a creep, but God can he write. The entire book was written in this same gorgeous style. I got a bit annoyed at the snippets of French; there was hardly ever enough context for me to translate it on my own, but it would be interesting to have gone through and worked it all out.
Do you understand why I’m so confused now? It was simultaneously terrible and amazing. I couldn’t pick it up and I couldn’t put it down. Would I recommend it? Who knows?