Friday, May 28, 2010

I read Lolita.

Of course we are all scandalized to know that the monster Humbert Humbert is in love with the barely pubescent nymphet Dolores Haze, called Dolly, Lo, Lola and for Hum, his own Lolita.

Beyond that, I didn't know what to expect. What I found was a story about love. Rapturous love. Obsessive, destructive love. Love at first sight. Love that derails Dolly's childhood and twists Humbert from observation to action to crime.

Nabokov never panders. The sex is deftly, delicately, discretely handled. The inner workings of Humbert's obsession are likewise pinned and described as delicately as the butterflies Nabokov hunted every summer. Lo is seen from a distance, through the prism of Humbert's rapture, and only slowly reveals herself.

The early chapters give you Humbert circling his desired object, followed by the long ramble of travel with Hum and his imagined "daughter as wife". The book closes with the delirium of Humbert's inevitable loss and the impossibility of its recapture.

Humbert's love does great damage to many people, but in the end, the reader is left with no doubt that he did indeed love his Lolita as deeply and as poorly as any love in literature.

Worth a read.

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