After hearing all the hype about this book, I couldn't wait to read it and discover how amazing it is for myself. I was greatly disappointed.
How has t...moreAfter hearing all the hype about this book, I couldn't wait to read it and discover how amazing it is for myself. I was greatly disappointed.
How has this book become such a worldwide success? It's slow, boring and there is no real connection with any of the characters. I found myself disliking everyone in the book. The overall idea could have been very good, even though it isn't exactly original, but I just thought the author didn't make the most of this great idea that she had. The best part of the book, without meaning to sound gruesome and morbid, was the death scene at the beginning. I admit that it was creepy and well told, I read that and geared myself up for a good book. But for me, it was as if the story ended there and the rest was a load of slow-moving waffle. The great idea had come along, happened for a while, and then died a painful death with the protagonist. The characters weren't interesting enough to hold up the rest of the story, I was just relieved when I finally got to the end. It was a painfully boring book... and I've lost count of the times people have told me how much they love it - why? Did I miss something? I honestly feel like I've read a completely different book from everyone else... I do not understand it's popularity at all.(less)
As we all should know, reading and enjoying a book is largely about interpretation. People are not the...moreNow, this is going to be embarrassing to admit.
As we all should know, reading and enjoying a book is largely about interpretation. People are not the same and we all view things differently, one individual might see a relationship in a book as "passionate" while another could see it as "damaging". When characters make bad decisions, some will view it as stupidity and others will view it as an accurate representation of humanity's imperfections. Not only that, but time often changes the way one person sees things. A teenager does not usually have the same outlook on life and relationships that someone of thirty does, and neither of them have the same outlook as someone of seventy does.
So it's time that I admit, when reading this at thirteen, my younger brain actually romanticised Humbert's depravity and saw the relationship between him and Lolita as some tragic love affair that could never work out for the obvious reasons. It was (surprise, surprise) Tatiana's review that made me wonder if I'd had a screw loose when reading this years ago, her interpretation was so far from what I remembered that I simply had to find time for a re-read. This summer, I did just that. I am going to point my shameful finger of blame at my age when I first read it, I was as fooled by Humbert as the young Lolita was.
Humbert is not a reliable narrator, his declaration that Lolita was responsible for seducing him is repulsive and wrong. Because, in the end, an adult has no excuse for having sex with a child, even if they're walking around half-naked and offering it up - adults have a responsibility not to take advantage of children, and I now realise how this case is no exception. This is not some tragic romantic tale about forbidden love, it is the story of how a grown man repeatedly raped a young girl. The fact that it is so easy to be taken in by him either says something about how brilliant a writer Nabokov is (which he is), or how much society still loves to blame the victim.
I don't know whether to feel better about my original feelings or be horrified that even the description for the audiobook describes the novel as: "a love story almost shocking in its beauty and tenderness." And I also know that I have no right to criticise other people who saw it in such a way, but I would ask you to read it again, to look beyond Humbert's snivelling and self-pity, to see the man who considers murdering a woman so he can be free to have sex with her twelve year old daughter, the man who feels sorry for himself when a pubescent girl doesn't want to have sex with him because she's still hurt from the last time. Is that love? Maybe it was for a thirteen year old looking through Humbert's perverted eyes, but I'm glad I understand it better now.
Nabokov has written a brilliant and disturbing novel, my opinion of it hasn't changed in that respect. I found it surprisingly easy to read and became absorbed quickly - even all those years ago. His portrayal of Humbert's perverted mind is scarily good, perhaps even too good if people can so easily be convinced to side with a paedophile - which is often regarded as the ultimate crime of all, isn't it? Even cold-blooded murderers go after prisoners who've messed with kids. And, as much as I feel ashamed for being so taken in by Humbert, I know that it's not just me who was fooled. Hell, even the GR description proves it. But, believe me, Lolita is a victim and no amount of saddening flashbacks to Humbert's past can change that. (less)
This is not the best book ever written. It is unlikely to affect you on any deep emotional level and you probably won't spend sleepless nights just th...moreThis is not the best book ever written. It is unlikely to affect you on any deep emotional level and you probably won't spend sleepless nights just thinking about it.
But it's a simple, humourous sci-fi adventure. It won't do something for everybody but I'm a massive fan of Douglas Adams' and his sense of humour. Come on, like it or not, Adams' has some awesomely quotable sayings (not all of these are from this exact book):
"In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move."
"For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons."
"The Guide says there is an art to flying", said Ford, "or rather a knack. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss."
"A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools."
"Would it save you a lot of time if I just gave up and went mad now?"
"The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't."