Hannah Eiseman-Renyard's Reviews > Lolita

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
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's review
Jul 28, 2009

it was ok
bookshelves: nearly-didn-t-finish-it, i-don-t-get-it, 20th-century-classics, playing-with-form
Read in August, 2004

Dull, But Not Without Redeeming Features

It took me two years to power my way through this one. I'm a stubborn reader that doesn't like to leave things half-read - but believe me it was reading for grim determination rather than pleasure from about the first third onwards.

My heart sank when it then appeared on my uni reading lists and I had to go through the bugger again, but reading it again has given me a slightly higher appreciation of it.

There are some powerful descriptions, some beautiful turns of phrase, not to mention the uncomfortable subject matter is what good literature should be tackling - showing things from unusual perspectives and humanising the monster.

My problem starts when dear Humbert Humbert goes on the road, and just starts listing hotels and the most uninteresting details for hours at a stretch. At my university they argued that this was a deliberate move by Nabokov to demonstrate something about the narrator. Knowing Nabokov it probably was, but it still lost me - and putting your audience off is not a good move as far as I'm concerned.

Plus the wet fart of an ending. I know dramatic things happened, but by that point it felt like we were watching the action through a spyglass. Somehow, when the plot gets the most dramatic, it all feels bizarrely removed.

Again, I'm sure Nabokov meant it that way, and I'm sure it's terribly clever, but beyond the opening lines of the first chapter, it bored me to tears.
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