Friday 14 September 2018

Book Review: Lolita; Vladimir Nabokov.

The next chosen read for my Podcast with Kiara and Mel, I had mixed feelings about this classic! On the one hand, it's a well-known book that I knew would provoke a lot of thought and discussion. On the other, it's very controversial as it's about paedophilia and has been described by reviews as 'romantic'. I worried that this was what the author was actually going for, but having read it I now realise that this is certainly not the case and feel a lot more comfortable (though not completely).

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: Lolita
AUTHOR: Vladimir Nabokov
PAGES: 321
GENRE: Classic, Literary Fiction, Adult

RATING: 4.5/5 Stars

When it was published in 1955, "Lolita" immediately became a cause célèbre because of the freedom and sophistication with which it handled the unusual erotic predilections of its protagonist. But Vladimir Nabokov's wise, ironic, elegant masterpiece owes its stature as one of the twentieth century's novels of record not to the controversy its material aroused but to its author's use of that material to tell a love story almost shocking in its beauty and tenderness.

Awe and exhilaration–along with heartbreak and mordant wit–abound in this account of the aging Humbert Humbert's obsessive, devouring, and doomed passion for the nymphet Dolores Haze. Lolita is also the story of a hypercivilized European colliding with the cheerful barbarism of postwar America, but most of all, it is a meditation on love–love as outrage and hallucination, madness and transformation.

What I Liked:

  • While this certainly isn't a romantic read, it's pretty funny at times. Humbert might be a vile narrator, but he makes some great commentary on American society, and he's pretty ironic and sarcastic which I like. Also, he's a great example of an unreliable narrator and those are my favourite kind. He is complex, often contradicts himself and is highly emotional, which makes him interesting for sure.
  • The plot is very thought-provoking and well-crafted. It might have been simple but it kept me hooked from start to finish, and I really enjoyed that about it.
What I Disliked:
  • Aside from the subject matter, the language was a bit flowery. This was of course intentional, Humbert uses it to distract and charm the reader/jury so that they will think differently about his actions. But I still didn't like it as I ended up skimming areas.
Overall Conclusion:
This book is certainly a conversations starter. And a page turner. And I feel a lot better about reading it now that I know that Nabokov's intentions were not to make this a romantic story, despite the fact that people have taken it that way. In fact, Humbert's actions throughout are pretty nauseating. But I enjoyed reading it and look forward to discussing it with others!

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