Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Historical fiction mixes with scandalous romance in the novel Lolita. Awe and exhilaration--along with heartbreak and mordant wit--abound in Lolita, Nabokov's most famous and controversial novel, which tells the story of the aging Humbert Humbert's obsessive, devouring, and doomed passion for the nymphet Dolores Haze. Lolita is also the story of a hyper civilized European colliding with the cheerful barbarism of postwar America. Most of all, it is a meditation on love--love as outrage and hallucination, madness and transformation. It follows Humbert, the unreliable protagonist who falls in love with twelve year old Dolores after becoming her stepfather. And of course, his private name for the innocent Dolores is Lolita. 

What sets this book apart is the incredible sentence variation and poetry of the language. The book is also notable for its writing style. The narrative is highly subjective as Humbert draws on his fragmented memories, employing a sophisticated prose style, while attempting to gain the reader's sympathy through his sincerity and melancholy, although near the end of the story Humbert refers to himself as a "maniac" who "deprived" Dolores "of her childhood", and he shortly thereafter states "the most miserable of family lives was better than the parody of incest" in which they were involved. All and all this book uses the power of language to entice its reader and to intoxicate you with this tongue-and-check, rule bending approach to romance.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a technically and conceptually complex novel, whether you enjoy reading historical fiction or not. This book is like french chocolate, deliciously rich and will leave you feeling utterly satisfied. Read the book Naked Lunch? Then you'll love Lolita.

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