Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

At the bookstore I work at, this text always seems to disappear if we leave it on the shelf, which is why after many instances of trial and error, we now leave it safely in the back, only bringing out upon customer request.

Why is this particular classic such a hot theft item? My manager blames it on the uneducated thieves who have the context of this book miscued.

Apparently, most believe Lolita to be a pedophiles perfect scenario, which after reading it, I guess it is…in a way. When initially trying to get it published, Nabokov was unable to find an American publisher and settled for publishing in Paris instead (Published September 1955).  In Britain it was received as  “the filthiest book I have ever read” and “sheer unrestrained pornography,” being banned from being sold in the country.  But this couldn’t stop the first print run of 5000 copies to sell out.

I would categorize Lolita as one of my favourite genres, a psychological portrait of a character type written in first-person narration.

At times, I couldn’t believe I was reading this text, for example: “Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.”

But the overall writing style and explanation of the protagonist Humbert Humbert’s (yes, this is not a typo, his first name is the same as his last) obsession for nymphets eventually won me over: “Now I wish to introduce the following idea. Between the age limits of nine and fourteen there occur maidens who, to certain bewitched travelers, twice or many times older than they, reveal their true nature which is not human, but nymphic (that is, demoniac); and these chosen creatures I propose to designate as “nymphets.”

Overall, I really did enjoy the book, especially for it’s literary qualities of being a tragic-comedy, his many instances of wordplay, puns, anagrams, and coinages such as nymphet.  A recommended read!

Movies:

I found this to be a very condensed version of the book, but a good representation of the characters: (From 1962)

I haven’t watched this 1997 version, but Jeremy Iron is a perfect fit for the role of Humbert Humbert.

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