Reviews Comments: Why is this book considered a modern classic?
Why is this book considered a modern classic?
It took me two tries to read it. The writing is very "dense" which is the best word I can find to describe it. Humbert rambles on and on about everything except what is actually happening in the story. Granted, there are laugh-out-loud moments (Mr. Potts, bring the cots!), and others I can't really recall. Readers as erudite as Humbert himself should catch all the literary jokes (I didn't). SPOILERS SPOILERS Humbert does some really nasty stuff to Lolita. Sleeping with a twelve-year-old was only one of the terrible things done to her. Kidnapping her out of camp and then not telling her about her mother's death. Marrying her mother simply to get close to her. Chasing Quilty across the country with Lo along. I suppose the book is about obsession. I am glad I read the book all the way through at least once. I saw the James Mason/Kubrick version tonight. Guess I have to see the later one now. Well good luck with this book, hope it takes you only one try.
Because Billy Joel mentioned it in a song once.
comment #15766 Wackd 12th Aug 12
Because it's great.
comment #15846 LuminousMuse 18th Aug 12
Because Nabokov takes a disgusting, slimy type and turns him into a sympathetic character. That's not something just anybody could do. (Insert example here.)
comment #15858 longstreth 19th Aug 12
Apparently, he was meant to be an Unreliable Narrator Anti Hero or something. Just putting that out there.
comment #15859 MrMallard 20th Aug 12
Sympathetic? Hell no. Far as I can tell, Nabokov's primary purpose in getting inside Humbert's mind was to show what a warped, disgusting place it was (and not just because of the paedophilia - he's a domestic abuser who fantasised about permanently crippling his wife at one point) and to lampoon the absurd pretensions of sophistication he uses to paper over his own character flaws (see also, the sequence where he mocks someone for littering their writing with gratuitous French in order to sound sophisticated).
comment #15860 Iaculus 20th Aug 12
Humbert isn't sympathetic so much as he is complex. He's put in this pathetic position from the very start where he's desperate to convince and win over the reader. He's clearly intelligent but he overestimates his own brainpower and superiority to everyone else. The events of the book are too horrible for him to even be pitiable but you can kind of marvel at his desperation, weirdness, ego and delusions. I feel like longstreth misspoke and was probably referring to the fact that Lolita is such a great read for reasons beyond morbid curiosity. Er, I hope so anyway.
comment #16871 HeartOfAnAstronaut 16th Nov 12
It is hard to balance an unpleasant, unsympathetic yet interesting character. I think Nabokov failed in Lolita, because not only did I hate Humbert, I just wanted to stop reading his thoughts and go do something else. I had the same problem with Holden from Catcher In The Rye, but not with Alex from A Clockwork Orange. Perhaps it is because Alex has a degree of self-awareness, lacked by the other two. Or maybe he's just that much more charismatic. Whatever the reason, an asshole anti-hero can easily take me out of a story.
comment #16876 maninahat 17th Nov 12
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