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.

14 comments:

Joy said...

Maggie -- I felt the exact same way! Someone either commented or e-mailed me and said that our response is exactly what the author wanted us to feel, so he was a success. BAH!

maggie moran said...

He did a great job, Joy! :) This is actually a book discussion next Wednesday and I am so looking forward to it. There are more men than women in this open student club, and I wonder if they were creeped out too.

sage said...

I have never read it--I have wondered about it as I knew the subject matter, but I couldn't bring myself to read it and your review hasn't made it rise any higher in the "to read" list.

maggie moran said...

Sage, it is an awesome book if you pay no attention to HH's obession. The turn of phrases, double entendres, anagrams, etc. make for an interesting read. Another thing that makes the book redeemable is the ending. I'll just say it is one of those old fashion cautionary tales, along the lines of sin and someone will die. Oh, Humbert Humbert anagram is Hmm, the brute rub!

jenclair said...

I have never read it either and partly because I think I'd find it disturbing in a way I'd rather avoid. Yet I do feel the gap when so many others have read it.

maggie moran said...

I have to say my eyes are different after reading it, Jenclair. Fifty years ago, yet Nabokov has some surprising insights into human mal-behavior. The sex is alluded to, TG, but enough to titillate which bothers me on a personal level. Nabokov is teasing the reader and it is a valuable read. I value your opinion.

Isabel said...

This is one book that I don't want to read.

I read one novel that Ann Rice wrote under a pseudonyme and I was grossed out.

If I couldn't tolerate Rice's novel, I won't be able to stomach
Lolita

maggie moran said...

Good point, WW100! I read it for a book club; otherwise, I don't think I would bother. This should be one great discussion.

Oh, but I do hate to discourage people from reading. After writing it Wednesday, my trusted editor (Jane) was wondering if I was also promoting the book by being so negative. :)

Anonymous said...

Wanted to stop by to say "HI!" and wish you a Happy Easter weekend. Thanks for hooking up with me at Shelfari! :)

maggie moran said...

Thank you J. Kaye! Happy Easter to you, too! :D I was hoping it was you on Shelfari. Maxine is a great brand for you! :D

Diane said...

I read it many years ago, and then listened to it as an audible book 5-6 years ago. I had the same reaction as you did.

maggie moran said...

Sounds like the ick factor remains, Diane. Not to be down on audios, they come in handy when time is of the essence, BUT one misses the anagrams which this book reigns supreme. :)

~Becky said...

I read this two years ago for my book club and after I was about 1/2 through I skimmed the rest. I couldn't take it anymore. I hated this book.
~Becky

maggie moran said...

From eveyone's comments, it makes me think this book is only popular for its provocative nature ~Becky.

I was telling my hubby how Nabokov keeps naming great poets/writers who married younger brides, and he asked if Jerry Lee Lewis was mentioned. :D