Welcome back to another Books and Breakfast feature, where I discuss books while brunching.
This book’s breakfast:
A little coconut yoghurt with some home-made crunchy muesli, almonds and cranberries. And YES, that is a drinking glass (hey, don’t judge me, when you’re a student you have to get creative).
The book review:
Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita is something out of this world and deserves its title as classic from the 20th century. It is extremely well written and incredibly thorough when it comes to descriptions – overall probably one of the most intriguing books I have ever read.
I love the way that Humbert sometimes adresses us, the readers, as if we are part of the jury. Humbert’s point of view in all of this is actually quite something to handle. I sometimes felt myself torn between liking him, feeling sorry for him and trying to justify what he had done as something “not that bad”, I mean Lo initiated it didn’t she, just like he wrote. And then I took a break from reading and felt totally disgusted with myself, like WOW, he managed to manipulate me. Because he very much does romantisize the happenings in the book, the things he (they) did, it was sometimes quite tricky to actually realize when something was going on, especially in the beginning. I suppose I should have been more ready for even “romantic” descriptions of what he did to her, after all – he did warn us readers that he would restrain from using “inproper” language and descriptions.
Humbert is insane. A brilliant writer who knows how to twist and use words to his liking, someone who is very observant, but nevertheless a mad man. I had to remind myself of that throughout reading this book, because the way he used language, it was like I could unterstand his perspective, he was persuading me to be on his side. And that’s so remarkable, Nabokov did masterful work with this. Humbert as a narrator is about as unreliable as it gets. I mean for christ’s sake, he is capable of rape, child abuse and murder and yet it was extremely hard for me to see that, really see it.
Dolores/Lolita is about as complicated as it gets. I couldn’t decide if I hated her or felt sorry for her. Her character development is a drastic one, but extremely well noticable throughout Humbert’s writing. I was a little shocked (that’s an understatement) that she was already sexually experienced at 12 and even more so when she never really did seem to object to Humberts advances, not really anyway. She certainly learnt to manipulate him and use his needs/desires to get what she wanted. BUT STILL, she could have left countless times and yet she didn’t. I know that she felt trapped in the “arrangement”, especially as she grew older but then she leaves with a child pornographer who she claims to be in love with? I get the feeling she has no sense of self. And the most tragic thing is that in the end, when she is 17 and pregnant and sees Humbert for the first time in ages, she isn’t even mad! HOW????? How does she not blame him for taking away her innocence, for stealing her away from a normal childhood? I was so mad at this point, mad at her, mad at him, mad at everyone. It was just so frustrating.
Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this book to everyone. I personally loved it, the twists, the mindfuckery, the manipulation, the writing, everything. But I don’t think that everyone will enjoy/appreciate it. It still remains a rather difficult subject, one that a lot of people don’t like to talk about. I can only imagine what kind of scandal this book must have caused when it was first released. Lolita definitely deserves its status as a “classic” and is a masterpiece in my eyes. It is a book I will most certainly pick up in the future again.
Have you read Lolita? What are your thoughts on it?