Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov | Spoiler Free

*All book reviews on this blog are spoiler free*

“He broke my heart. You merely broke my life.” - Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita. 

Clementine Von Radics, the poet behind ‘Mouthful of Forevers’, has written a poem called ‘Lolita Addresses Her Author’ which became my first introduction to Lolita. The poem left its imprint in my brain but it never made sense. And so when I saw Lolita on a shelf, I picked it up.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov is the autobiography of Humber Humbert, a self-described poet and pervert. And both these descriptions ring true. Humbert Humbert, two names, refer to the two, often contrasting, personalities that make up the man. Humbert writes this book from prison about the object of his love and attention – Lolita, a 12-year-old girl. It is the story of how Humbert, a paedophile, sexually assaults and manipulates Lolita to take absolute control of her life. Even her name, Dolly Haze, is replaced by Humbert assigned Lolita.

Firstly, allow me to address the elephant in the room – the paedophilia. Nabokov at no point normalises the idea of a 40 something man engaging in sexual relations with a 12-year-old, emotionally vulnerable girl. Humbert makes it evident to Lolita that the nature of relationship should remain a secret at all costs, the taboo behind his actions. But unfortunately, it is autobiographical in nature and the sense of discomfort persists through the book.

The copy of Lolita that I have contains an afterword by Craig Raine, who analyses the book and Nabokov’s writing. Unfortunately, I found myself enjoying the 10 pages of the afterword more than the actual book. Lolita is not an easy book to read. It is overly complicated, poetic in its language and I found myself rereading several pages multiple times before I could make any sense of it. However, when the language is comprehensible, it is funny and witty.

However, at the end of the day, I would like to read more about Lolita than read the book itself. 


  1. http://lolitascrubbed.blogspot.in/2009/06/chapter-1.html
    Assuming you enjoyed the original prose, this will be good fun.
    It's not me, haha.

    1. I went through some of the posts on that blog. Truly interesting... shall definitely read ahead. Thank you for the recommendation :D

  2. I must warn you: it is badly written to the point that it is a parody of itself.