Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Lolita (copy)

He is a pervert, this E. Humbert Humbert from mysterious places in Europe. The deviant lurks in a handsome face capable of playing the leading man. The voice charms unassuming Americans within listening distance of his romantic French phrases. What knowledge can be gleaned from his fa├žade? How can anyone close enough to smell his cologne realize it masks his spoil?

As the narrator, Humbert Humbert realizes his behavior is unacceptable. See, HH likes his mates on the young side, preferring prepubescent females between the ages of nine and fourteen. These beauties, these flickers of light, these exquisite nymphets swarm his mind and control his every action.

The obsession starts as all innocent encounters during youth when one becomes attracted to the opposite sex. Normal preadolescent HH spends a summer at the coast with his aunt. His father, away on business, leaves the youth without a consultant for his growing admiration of friendly neighbor, Annabel. The faunlet, two months HH’s junior, seems to enjoy her new pet, too.

Left to their own devices, the two embark on a summer of discovery. The journey, thwart at every apex, leaves HH fragmented; this sultry summer of ‘23 becomes the foundation of his madness.

Oh, but in the summer of 1947, after being in and out of sanatoriums, Double H meets Lolita. Fresh, young, 12-year-old Lolita, who seems as independent as Bathsheba Everdene, is the ideal faunlet. HH sings, “My sin, my soul. Lo—lee—ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.”

Vladimir Nabokov asks the reader to suspend judgment until the end of his favorite book titled Lolita. It has been over 50 years since its American publication, and I am still unable to remain indifferent. I loathe the character HH and his equally sinister shadow Clare Quilty. I deplore the sexual contact and feel icky for participating in the act of voyeurism through reading.

Not only do I have trouble suspending judgment on the characters, but the author as well. What kind of man writes about pedophilia without realizing his readers will be left with a bitter taste? Does he want the reader to be repelled or titillated? I would love to hear another reader’s view.

Here is Nymeth's thoughts at Things Mean a Lot.