Lolita (Vladimir Nabokov) / Books and Breakfast

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.

5/5 stars on Goodreads

Have you read Lolita? What are your thoughts on it?

12 thoughts on “Lolita (Vladimir Nabokov) / Books and Breakfast

  1. I ‘ve had this book on my to be read list for a while. I enjoy twists and manipulation and having my mind boggled like you do too, and it has always seemed like a book that I should give a shot for those reasons. This was a really good review, I’m kinda keen to read it even more now! x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can only recommend it. I think a lot of people decide not to read it because of the controversial subject matter. But that’s honestly what made me want to read it even more. Let me know what you think once you’ve read it! x

      Liked by 1 person

  2. girl this is like reading my own mind from a few years ago … I loved this book because it was such a mindfuck, but I felt so uncomfortable for sometimes empathising with Humbert x_x This is a great review, I might actually reread Lolita!xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you could relate! I have spoken to a lot of people about this book and some stated that it was “disgusting” and for some reason that made me feel very insecure about my liking it. And you should! I am also thinking of rereading it again in the near future. xx

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  3. LOVE this so much and completely agree with you. Humbert is a peadophile who takes away Dolores’ childhood and forces her to lose her innocence, if you like. This book for me went at 100mph and it an absolute mindfuck because there’s so many twists, turns and emotions going through you when reading it. As the narration is from Humbert himself it is already unreliable as he is of course, a peadophile that paints Dolores in a certain light – like she is begging / teasing him to be this way and therefore, it’s all her fault because she was taunting him and waving it right in his face. Even though I do believe Dolores no sense of self (like you said, she leaves with a child pornographer…) she was still a child at the time and I hate the fact that people romanticise this book (due to Humbert’s narration) because you are so easily manipulated by the way he paints the story, but at the end of the day it is about peadophilia – there is nothing romantic about it. I agree that this is such an amazing book, the writing is just incredible. I think the film did it justice too which isn’t something I feel I get to say very often – have you seen it? xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aaaahhh this!! I completely agree with you. I was so emotional after I got to the end of the book, I didn’t know what to think. I felt betrayed everytime I noticed I was being manipulated because like it or not, Humbert’s character does appear likable, at least to a certain extent. What film are you referring to? (there are two). I’m guessing you mean the 1997 one, as is is more well known? The second one, which is older, is from 1962 and was directed by Stanley Kubrick. I saw both and I honestly couldn’t say which one I liked best. I think both had their unique styles and perspectives but overall I would say they did the book justice. xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh sorry !! Yes I meant the 1997 one, that’s the only one I’ve watched all the way through, the 1962 one I’ve only seen clips of so I couldn’t compare them based on that but I’m glad you think they both did it justice!xx

        Liked by 1 person

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