Lolita is a narrative that permeates pop culture, in advertisements, references and romanticizing of things that are not okay. This narrative probably originates from the 1997 film adaptation starring Jeremy Irons:
When I was a teenager this novel was a way to live out my own sexuality and confused feelings about adults around me. These adults were mostly male teachers making Humbert Humbert the perfect stand-in. However engaging with this story as an adult is a bit different. It’s gross you guys.
Lolita is the story of a man who abducts a child and then repeatedly rapes her while calling it love.
“You see, I loved her. It was love at first sight, at last sight, at ever and ever sight.”
Okay, Humbs. Let me level with ya. Rule number one of loving people is like, don’t rape them. Rule number two is don’t abduct them and isolate them from like everything they know. Come on Humbs Humbs. T’aint that difficult.
Anyways, besides the whole adult-man-rapes-child-and-calls-it-love thing, Lolita is a joy to read. Humbert Humbert is never a hero, he is very obviously an unreliable narrator and often times as a reader you are able to witness how strong Lolita is during all of this. She orchestrates her own escape and succeeds. She builds her life as best she knows how and she leaves poor Humbs Humbs totally devestated.
“Life is short. From here to that old car you know so well there is a stretch of twenty, twenty-five paces. It is a very short walk. Make those twenty-five steps. Now. Right now. Come just as you are. And we shall live happily ever after. ”
There is no love or admiration for Humpsy in this book, yet Nabokov is such a great writer that when Humbsy Humbs says goodbye to Lolita and she, smiling, tells him no, I felt both his sadness and hers. Nabokov says in the afterword that he doesn’t really know what Lolita is about but he wrote it as a love letter to the English language. And damn, son, shit’s tight yo.
10/10 would read again.