Rebecca's Reviews > Lolita

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
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's review
Jul 17, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: unreliable-narrators, read-in-2016, summer-2016-reads, comps, modern-american, postmodernism, classics

Tonight I told one of my best friends that I stayed up late finishing Lolita last night. It's actually really funny, I told her. She asked if that was the novel with the guy who has sex with a child. Yes. Lolita (Delores Haze) is 12.

I loved Lolita even while I was disgusted. I am angry that I need to qualify my love--"I was disgusted"--of a book, as if the mere act of reading it all the way through makes me a pervert like the narrator, Humbert Humbert. As if stomaching it means I am sick and demented. As if liking it means I need to throw out my feminist card. Before I finished Lolita last night, I'd only ever made it to around page 50. This is too much, I'd think, this misogynist novel, this rape novel. I'd abandon it and say maybe later, maybe someday I'd see why Lolita is so great.

When I approached Lolita as something other than a rape apologetic--because Nabokov makes it clear that he does not share his narrator's love for nymphets, both in the way the fake memoir is written and in the afterword--I was able to see how funny it is.

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Reading Progress

July 17, 2011 – Shelved
June 7, 2012 – Started Reading
June 7, 2012 –
page 32
10.09% "Oh Humbert Humbert, you do have words to play with!"
January 26, 2014 –
page 55
17.35% "Came for the classic I've started reading several times but never finished (not even close), stayed for the unreliable narrator and beautiful prose. (Even if the subject matter is, you know, ugh.)"
March 25, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
May 22, 2016 –
page 119
37.54% "Such a strange novel, funny and sad and disgusting all at once, full of such beautiful words about such ugly desires. I'm sure we're supposed to be uncomfortable, and god yes, I am, but I'm trying to enjoy this novel because it provokes such a strong reaction and constantly makes me think. (Esp. about Poe and Dante and unreliable narrators and metafiction.)"
May 23, 2016 – Shelved as: unreliable-narrators
May 23, 2016 –
page 171
53.94% "I don't usually like to be prescriptive, but if you're reading Lolita and find the book erotic as a whole, or you think this isn't rape, or you think Lolita actually seduced HH and enjoys this, or you don't find Lolita sympathetic and HH a complex monster and unreliable narrator, you're not reading this right. Because Nabokov is very clear, and we are supposed to feel deeply uncomfortable."
May 24, 2016 –
page 229
72.24% "HH has become such an unreliable narrator that this is like reading "The Tell-Tale Heart.""
May 25, 2016 –
page 309
97.48% "So beautiful (the words), so sad, so depressing, such good art, so not what I thought it was going to be."
May 25, 2016 – Shelved as: read-in-2016
May 25, 2016 – Shelved as: summer-2016-reads
May 25, 2016 – Shelved as: comps
May 25, 2016 – Shelved as: modern-american
May 25, 2016 – Shelved as: postmodernism
May 25, 2016 – Finished Reading
May 26, 2016 – Shelved as: classics

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Erin (new) - added it

Erin My love for Lolita is really more about Nabokov's gift for inhabiting and fleshing out a character he personally detests.

Rebecca YES. I read some GR reviews that said he and Lolita are very flat characters and thought, "Are we reading the same book?" I think both are very fleshed out, and Nabokov is very clear about despising HH.

message 3: by Erin (new) - added it

Erin You are really making me want to read this again But I definitely remember loving this for the very obvious writing exercise that it was - we're meant to feel very, very uncomfortable.

message 4: by Erin (new) - added it

Erin The review on your blog is also so great because I think everything Nabokov wrote is really about memory.

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