Kevin Quinley's Reviews > Lolita

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
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Mar 28, 08

bookshelves: read-for-school, the-pantheon
Read in March, 2008

I vacillated between giving this 4 or 5 stars, eventually selecting the latter, either way Lolita's distinguished reputation belies any superfluous stars I may award. Nabokov amply rewards the sensitive reader braving a cringe-worthy tale of pre-pubescent love, demonstrating masterful control of the English language in explicating a decidedly repulsive (fictitious) memoir. Indeed, the dark duplicity of Humbert Humbert's psyche is best appreciated through artistry rather than a scientific approach bound to result in some clinical pejorative.

Employing a whimsical tone epitomized thorough the various nomenclatures Humbert awards his persona (Herr Doktor Humbert a personal favorite), readers are submerged into the murky unreliability of the narrator, challenged to discern whether Humbert's suspiciously coincidental universe is indeed so.

SPOILER ALERT!! In full cognition of these tendencies, Nabokov creates for Humbert's nemesis a playful playwright Clare Quilty. Throughout the novel I maintained a lingering feeling the drama was almost too-good-to-be-true, I mean to say I wondered whether the twists of fate and idealized romance were elements of a 'true' memoir or simply the upshot of Humbert's beautifully demented mind. Supposing that Humbert died incarcerated for murder as indicated in the prologue, I submit this was not the author's intended reading, but one might construe Humbert as Quilty's schizoid fantasy, a wonderful blend of sexual deviancy, flair for the dramatic, and disenchantment with Americana--albeit pure imagination.

Simply thinking out loud since reviewing the plot or critical analysis is out there for anyone who desires. I look forward to watching the Kubrick and Lyme film adaptations within the next week to see which themes they distill from the dense text. Recommended for anyone tolerable of squeamishness but would abstain if episodes of moral perversion undercut any redemptive features (Hi Mom!!)
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