Monday 14 April 2014

Nabokov, Vladimir "Lolita"

Nabokov, Vladimir Vladimirovich [Влади́мир Влади́мирович Набо́ков] "Lolita" - 1955 

And as you know, I love classics. So I embarked on "Lolita". But - I  didn't enjoy it at all. He reminded me of Kerouac and Salinger rather than Tolstoy and Dostoevsky which I probably expected. After all, he is Russian. But he says so himself at the end of his book, he is attempting to sound more American. I think if he thinks Kerouac and Salinger are the greatest American writers, he achieved that. Unfortunately, I know a lot more better American writers than those two.

Nabokov obviously likes to play with words and I appreciate that, I love that, too. But that still doesn't make a good story. Why this book has become such a classic is beyond me. I couldn't even follow the thoughts and feelings of the protagonist, I didn't "get" his obsessiveness of young girls. I don't think I say too much about the book when I divulge that it is the story of a paedophile. But it's not. It's also neither about the girl nor the guy. I have no idea what it's supposed to be about. As I said, I love classics but I have no idea why this is regarded as one.

One last quote he mentioned: "There are at least three themes with are utterly taboo as far as most American publishers are concerned [the first one being books like Lolita, with erotic scenes]. The two others are: a Negro-White marriage which is a complete and glorious sccess resulting in lots of children and grandchildren; and the total ateist who lives a happy and useful life, and dies in his sleep at the age of 106." I think here I can agree with the author.

And I do like another quote by him that I found somewhere else:
 "A major writer combines these three - storyteller, teacher, enchanter - but it is the enchanter in him that predominates and makes him a major writer."

From the back cover:

"Humbert Humbert is a middle-aged, fastidious college professor. He also likes little girls. And none more so than Lolita, whom he'll do anything to possess. Is he in love or insane? A silver-tongued poet or a pervert? A tortured soul or a monster? ...Or is he all of these?"


  1. Oh my, I read this as a young teenage because it was supposed to be erotic. It bored me to tears.

  2. Haha, Janet, I can imagine.
    I didn't expect anything erotic, well, it was always implied but that was definitely not the reason I read it. But I did expect a little "War and Peace" or "Crime and Punishment" and didn't get any of it, either. So, either way, this book is disappointing.

    Have a good Easter,