22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
, 22 Dec. 2007
This review is from: Lolita (Paperback)
Lolita is a book of literary intelligence, style and wit. Vladimir Nabokov has always been able to write and write well that is not in dispute.
Lolita is more about what readers take away from the writing than what was intended or not intended from the text or the author.
During the 1950's many books were censored and banned. Lolita was not one of them (The book `Wicked Angels' by Eric Jourdan has only recently been allowed to be published in France. A book that actually pales Nabokov's 'Lolita' to a poor read indeed). Nobokov's protagonist in 'Lolita' Humbert Humbert delves into a paedophilic view of life and his relationship with a 12 year old child. Interestingly this book was deemed more acceptable in the past by the censors than an adult relationship between two men.
This brings into perspective the book and the controversy `now' surrounding it.
You could read this book and take away from it exactly, what those who heap criticism on it state. Glorification of paedophilia. Understanding and sympathy for the paedophile. Humbert the paedophile did not have to drug `Lolita' as planned when he took her prisoner. The 12 year old child was more than complicit in her own abuse. To confirm this fact you do not have to look any further that the reviews of the book here. They also suggest a 'Love' story.
Open-minded as I am I find this a difficult pill to swallow. Humbert who threatens 'Lolita' to a home if she does not comply. Offers financial rewards for her compliance. Uses her as a pretext to invite other children to his home. His plans to impregnate the rapidly aging 'Lolita' at 13 (The Paedophile in this book has an attraction for 'nymphets' girls aged 9 to 14 only) to produce a nymphet with his blood in her veins for future exploitation.
A love story is not outside the realms of possibility but certainly not with Nobokov's Humbert and 'Lolita'. 'Embrace' by Mark Behr is a case in point. The child narrator in this book instigates and pursues single-mindedly the choirmaster at the school with a mixture of lust and revenge. The child succeeds then subsequently betrays and falls in love with him. It is difficult not to feel some sort of sympathy with the choirmaster. The narrator decades later will probably feel the terrible self righteousness of staff at the school more damaging than the actual relationship with the paedophile. The child protagonist in 'Embrace' has equal if not more power over Mr Cilliars the choirmaster with his life, liberty and livelihood.
Other people have pointed out that this book does not encourage paedophilia but merely brings into perspective the mind of the paedophile and `Lolita' is just a projection of his lust and not really a separate person in her own right. Added to this the `bad' paedophile is not really a separate entity but an extension of Humbert himself.
This book is hugely powerful and influential after all it brought to us the creepy man on playground benches before we knew who the creepy man was. It has also brought us 'Lolita' a name synonymous with paedophilia (Most child pornography was referred to by this name until recently)
This is an interesting if not disturbing book. Not so much a study of a paedophiles mind but an insight into our own social mores and understanding of the issues presented.
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