This is undoubtedly a shocking book - so much so that people will consider you weird(and a little sick) if you admit that you liked the book. And I liked it a whole lot. I liked how Nabokov aroused empathy in his readers for Humbert Humbert - a twisted paedophilic molester. This is wholly due to the beautiful prose, which presents the main character as a caring lover badly wounded by a tragic romance in his childhood days. Within the narrative, of course, is the disturbing and ugly nature of the relationship. This was what kept me from sympathising with Humbert and seeing Dolores as the manipulator. Lolita is as unfortunately realistic today as it was when first published; with Humbert apologising, justifying and warping the reality of their relationship. This is what makes it a must-read: Nabokov managed to write a brilliantly deceptive novel over which opinion remains sharply divided. I would not recommend this book for anyone who is looking to identify and sympathise with the characters throughout their journey. I think this book requires undivided attention to justify the prose; as well as a willingness to engage with this disturbing(and eventually tragic) story.
Read it while you're young enough...
...for it not to be too weird that you found that book to be the hottest thing since toasted bread. As a 15 year old I read a book about a girl who, in theory, at any point I could be going out with. Compared to the likes of Crime and Punishment this is short and easy to read. The story is rad. It touches on everybody(?)'s innermost worry at that age other than their sexuality, namely "That girl who is about 12 looks awfully pretty. But she's 12. Oh no, I must be a paedophile (it's a hebephile, anyways)." This book just makes you more worried. Humbert is a creep, but at this stage you wonder if you could become just like him. The book is brilliantly intense for the first half but once things get a bit more spread out in terms of locale and time period I found it to lose its power in the middle. It gets better again quickly. Especially the travel montage. It did not further the plot and you know it's true. My first sentence was a little misleading. There is sex, but all of it is implied, your dirty thoughts filling in the blanks, *wink*? The writing is incredible, with many various references but a solid display of advanced literary techniques like giving the verbs in order to swap a more dramatic or, in this case, jarring, effect. Okay, that was a terrible attempt, it is used properly in the book. I enjoyed the whole contrast of the beauty of the outside appearance of America versus the seediness of within it and the way that it was all very subtly led in. Because of the way Humbert is the narrator we get a very stilted view of who Lolita really is which helps us to feel worried as to whether the entire concept of her kidnapping and regular rape is really just "no biggie" for her. Nabokov realises this, and so every so often he makes a comment suggesting how wrong Humbert is. I liked especially the time in which Lolita thinks that Humbert is asleep and starts to cry. No, I found it very distressing, but you know what I mean. The conclusion is satisfying if you worked out all of this Quilty chase business. I had no idea what was going on which made it less so. Make sure to read the preface because it helps resolve plot points, and again afterwards, just in case you missed something. It is a very good book. It is sexy, but don't be put off by that, because it is both a classic and readable - a rarity.
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.