I would like to nominate myself for the World’s Slowest Reader award. I started reading Lolita at the end of January and I only finished it yesterday. Yikes. I generally read for about 20 minutes a day on weekdays while I’m travelling on the tube, which when paired with my being a slow reader, means that it’s taking me a while to move through books. Anyway, let’s get to it…
Has anyone else read Lolita and then had no idea how they felt about it afterwards? The writing is very poetic, so at times I found myself admiring the beautiful language, and at other times I was silently shouting, “get to the bloody point and stop speaking French at me!”
The subject matter didn’t bother me as a reader as much as I thought it would. I think this must have been one of the goals of the author– to have us empathise with someone who would typically be seen as being clearly in the wrong. Our anti-hero is Humbert Humbert, an artistic soul, and lover of nymphets (a particular breed of young girls). In particular, his most cherished nymphet comes to be Dolores Haze a.k.a. Lolita. The interesting part of this story is that, as it’s told by Humbert, you can’t help but to be slightly on his side because you’re taking the journey through the tale with him. When he discovers and longs for Lolita initially, I kind of forgot the inappropriate nature of his interests because he’s very sweet in the way that he fancies her. It’s crazy!
Then to make matters more complicated, you later see him struggling between acting as a father to Lolita and desiring to marry and be with her. What the what? By the end of the book (which I was begging to arrive swiftly by the final third), I was pretty settled that Humbert had minimal redeeming qualities, and despite Lolita being an obnoxious child, I was #teamLolita… But that was always going to be the right side to be on, wasn’t it?
As I’ve hinted, the book was a little too verbose for me at times and my mind would occasionally wander– usually over the French, and over several poetic, overlong paragraphs. It’s a story with excellent juxtapositions that leave you constantly wondering where you stand in all this mess, and I enjoyed that element of it. It’s a classic and I would definitely recommend it.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about Lolita if you’ve read it. Leave a comment and tell me your thoughts.
If you’re looking for a new read, I’ve just started The Year of the Flood by Margret Atwood. It’s the sequel to Oryx and Crake, which is a very clever page-turner. I’ll be writing about it when I finish!