Many a man has suffered in the pursuit of romance. And in the literary world, Humbert Humbert is among those who has suffered the most. He falls in love with a little “nymphet” as he calls her, a girl of twelve.
Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul.
His object of desire is so close to him; she is after all the daughter of his landlady. But she is also as forbidden, as forbidden can get. By all legal arguments, Lolita is way too young for the 37-year old Humbert. The more Humbert sees her, the more obsessed he becomes until his passion threatens to consume him.
In an attempt to keep Lolita exclusive to himself, he takes off with her on a cross-country adventure, moving from one hotel to the next before anyone can start suspecting this odd ‘father-daughter’ couple. Humbert had after all married Lolita’s mother in the desperate attempt to stay close to Lolita. As the days progress and Humbert’s lust corrupts Lolita, he finds himself satiated in a way, but Lolita begins to despair.
This book is controversial for a good reason. Vladimir Nabokov is controversial for a good reason as well. This story is unconventional. Awkward. Dark. But if you have been a lover yourself, or observed any lover in real life closely, your sympathies will lie with Humbert. He is, after all, a man madly obsessed. He is, after all, a man in love.
Nabokov’s prose is poetic. As you hear more from Humbert, you can’t help feeling his helplessness. To have once loved another young girl when Humbert was himself a young boy, only to lose her a few months later, that unfilled love left an indelible mark on his mind. For the rest of his life only someone who could take him back to those summer days he spent with the young girl, could come close to fulfilling his needs and desires.
But Lolita betrays him as only a young girl can. Humbert may have loved her, but her love for him was only transitory.
And it is towards the end of the book, that Humbert, well Nabokov really, left me feeling forlorn quite in the same way the narrator must have felt when he made his final plea to Lolita.
Cringe not at the thought of a man sexually involved with a pre-pubescent girl after he becomes her stepfather. If you pick up this novel, understand that this book is not some wanton story about pedophilia. It is a narrative of love, lust, and obsession. And it is a beautiful story.
Read from: 30 Dec ’16 to 15 Jan ’17
Pages: 331 | Published: 1955 | Genre: Literary Fiction