By: Vladimir Nabokov
My Rating: one out of five stars
Best for: Adults only–but I don’t think anyone needs to read Lolita
Taking one for the team here. I wanted to be able to give One Man Book Club readers a perspective on Vladimir Nabokov’s “classic” novel Lolita–a.k.a., “How to justify being a pedophile.”
I didn’t finish Lolita because I couldn’t stomach it. I read far enough in to get a feel for the writing, then I skipped around reading enough selections to get a feel for the content. I read several papers and reviews of others who read it and placed themselves firmly in either the “Lolita is brilliant” camp or the “Lolita is worthless” camp. Trust me, there are plenty of both.
And now I’ve picked my side.
Lolita is controversial because of the content and celebrated because of its beauty.
Where do you draw the line?
I’m pretty liberal in what I tolerate in my books, but my line is somewhere far from where Lolita begins.
The writing is stunning. Nabokov seduces the reader with his words much in the same way Humbert Humbert seduces his 12-year-old victim. It’s even more impressive that English was the guys 2nd or 3rd language. But that’s lipstick on the ugliest pig you could ever imagine.
To be clear, there are no descriptions of lewd acts. But it’s essentially the diary of a pedophile, and it’s subtly titillating in its descriptions of his thoughts, desires, and justifications.
I don’t have interest in purposely getting into the head of a pedophile just because the words are pretty, so I put Lolita squarely in the “not-art” category. I see no value in encouraging others to read it.
If you want to read a book with beautiful words, go read something by Markus Zusak.
I do not recommend Lolita.
Happy Reading (of something else)!