Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Book Review #29: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

"Publisher X, whose advisers got so bored with Humbert that they never got beyond page 188, had the naivete to write me that Part Two was too long. Publisher Y regretted that there were no good people in the book. Publiser Z said if he printed Lolita, he and I would go to jail."

Completely ignorant to the reputation that precedes Lolita until early last year, I

When I first read the excerpt: it's a pedophilia novel. Fifty pages into the book: it's an erotic novel. To innocent bypassers: it's a chick-lit novel. All of these misconceptions are a gross injustice to this piece of literature.

In my first sitting, I had a sharp loathing for Humbert. The thought that there are men out there like Humbert... ooof, it's chilling. As I progressed, he appears less predatory. I found his blind adoration and manipulative tactics are quite pathetic. I wasn't as disgusted as some people are by him. In fact, he is the biggest joke there is.

I can't help but wonder what it will be like if Humbert's an ugly man. There is a kind of bias, a guy once said to me, that if a handsome man is crazy over a woman, the woman is flattered. If an ugly man is crazy over a woman, the woman brands him a stalker. The protagonist clearly takes pride in his physicality: "clean cut jaw, muscular hands, deep sonorous voice, broad shoulder". It's amusing -- Humbert seems such a catch but you can hardly call a pedophile or a "nymphet-lover" perfect.

Be honest with me if you've read the book, didn't the fact that he has "striking if somewhat brutal good looks" help you stomach (a little) his creeping hands and his torrential psyche? I wonder if Nabokov deliberately made him like this -- why not use a less appetising male?

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