Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov – Book Review

Humbert Humbert, my friend, you monstrous motherfucker–sharing a ride in your twisted head has been a trip, a trip and a half. Kind of trip that had me laughing in-between bouts of revulsion and downright disgust. What else can you feel when you read sentences like these:

I could switch in the course of the same day from one pole of insanity to the other–from the thought that around 1950 I would have to get rid somehow of a difficult adolescent whose magic nymphage had evaporated–to the thought that with patience and luck I might have her produce eventually a nymphet with my blood in her exquisite veins, a Lolita the Second, who would be eight or nine around 1960, when I would still be dans la force de láge

Paranoia suffuses Humbert Humbert’s life: “I often felt we lived in a lighted house of glass, and that any moment some thin-lipped parchment face would peer through a carelessly unshaded window to obtain a free glipmse of things that the most jaded voyeur would have paid a small fortune to watch,” and how could it not? Despite Humbert Humbert’s wilful blindness to Lolita’s suffering under his attempt to erase her agency and make of her a vessel for his destructive, parasitic passion. Because it’s not love, despite his continued affirmations to the contrary. It is obsession and mania, but it is no love. Humbert Humbert destroys Lolita, piece by piece, inkling by inkling, in the forge of a mad, bestial desire for his nymphet.

Then there are the lines which shine with educated wit, such as: “He would change his name but he could not disguise, no matter how he slanted them, his very peculiar t’s, w’s and I’s. Quelquepart Island was one fhis favourite reisdences. He did not use a fountain pen which fact, as any psychoanalyst will tell you, meant that the patient was a repressed undinist. One mercifully hopes there are water nymphs in the Styx.” The novel is permeated with proof of Humbert Humbert’s worldliness, his highbrow education, his and that is where the image of that moral degenerate is interfered with; for are not . No, this novel shows well the depravity that can be locked away even behind the most perfect facade–and the cracking of that facade, it is something brutal to behold in the mind’s eye.

Erotica’s got nothing on Nabokov, that’s for sure. Its qualities as a supreme work of irony and dark satire have been much espoused, and rightfully so.

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