19. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955)
Dates: 1/21/20 – 1/28/20 (7 days)
Basic Plot: A man, obsessed with prepubescent girls, becomes sexually involved with one after becoming her stepfather.
Experience Before Reading: I had read about 50 pages a few years ago after borrowing the book from a friend. Sam, I will return it, I promise!
Takeaway: I think the point of this book is to be controversial. It’s written to make you feel uncomfortable and force you to develop your own thoughts not just on the thematic vulgarity, but on other morally-gray issues. In a country so politically divided, this book almost becomes more relevant than ever.
Besides the fact that your skin crawls during some of these pages, Nabokov writes prose like no other. He spins words into images so brilliantly – it’s elegant, it’s witty, and it’s mesmerizing. The narrator pulls you in with his brutal honesty and eerie (but in his mind, well-founded) justifications. He is endlessly clever with all sorts of wordplay. Since it’s told from the first-person, your heart aches knowing the tale is so one-sided and you never hear the perspective of Lolita herself.
Stylistically, I did find an imbalance between the parts the narrator chose to fixate on and the parts where you craved more. Maybe it was purposeful, but it really bothered me – especially during the second half of the book. Not to mention there were parts when he explained so little I almost didn’t know what happened.
In terms of story, it’s obviously not for the faint of heart. However, once he’s pulled you in, the story comes to a standstill. While it was nice to close out the tale and leave no unfinished plot holes, the ending was not what the narrator had built up so many times prior.
Would I Recommend It?: Only if I wanted to start a conversation, but Sparknotes could probably do.