101 Books to Read Before You Die discussion

Lolita
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Completed Reads > August Read - Lolita

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Mike | 318 comments Mod
Nabokov's highly feted novel of sexual obsession.


Irene | 1395 comments I read this nearly a decade ago. I disliked that experience so much that I can not bring myself to a re-read. Here is my review from that time.


Review I have to admit that I did not enjoy reading this book at all. To me, this felt like pornography. I don’t care how erudite the author, how literary the style, how fresh the use of language, how well crafted the characters, it still met my definition of pornography and I simply do not enjoy reading porn. This book depicted the sexual exploitation of a young adolescent by her step father. The only purpose for this graphic depiction seemed to be to entertain. Depicting sex for entertainment purposes is my definition of porn.

I tried to separate the writing from the subject to determine if I could understand its high regard in the literary canon. The narrator uses a pompous, verbose voice that became grating rather quickly into the novel. I suppose that, had this been a short story, or had this voice been assumed by a character who did not narrate, it might have worked. However, before the rape began, I wanted to tell this man to “put a sock in it”. However, I was impressed at the ability to capture the interior workings of such a depraved mind. Humbert knows that he is engaging in illegal, immoral and ultimately harmful behavior. Yet, his impulses prevent him from stopping. Humbert is sexually arrested at the time of his first adolescent sexual encounter and can not distinguish between love and lust, can not see the world from any vantage point except his own juvenile passions. I did not realize how well the pedophile was understood more than 50 years ago. And, Lolita’s ambiguity is also skillfully and credibly depicted. I can not imagine how Nabakov could have lived inside this character for the time it would take to complete this novel. I felt tarnished in the relatively few hours it took me to read it.


Mike | 318 comments Mod
Irene wrote: "I read this nearly a decade ago. I disliked that experience so much that I can not bring myself to a re-read..."

I concur. I found this to be a disturbing book.


Suki St Charles (goodreadscomsuki_stcharles) | 24 comments I missed a lot in this novel in previous readings. This time around, I read The Annotated Lolita, and it shed light on a lot of things (and also provides translations of the French phrases). The only "downside" of this edition is that the annotations sent me down a very enjoyable, but totally unplanned Nabokov rabbithole, as many of the annotations refer to passages in some of his other books, and draws connections through common themes and events in the books.


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