What is it about?
I am not going to sugar coat it. Lolita is about a horrific paedophile. You should know this before going into the book, and it is touched on in the prologue, which is written as a forward by a fictional psychiatrist for Humbert Humbert (the aforementioned paedophile), who has requested his memoir/confession be published posthumously. Lolita spans the entirety of Humbert’s life, from the loss of his childhood sweetheart as a teenager to his death in prison. He watches young girls (who he calls ‘nymphets’) but doesn’t do anything to them, until he happens to become a lodger of Charlotte Haze, whose daughter – the titular Lolita – is a so-called ‘nymphet‘. The bulk of the story unfolds as fortune and fate allows for Humbert to become Lolita’s sole guardian, the two drive around America for two years as lovers. What happens after these two years I can’t disclose without ruining the story.
Is it any good?
I would love to be able to say ‘no’. That, as you would expect, I hated this story about a vile criminal. But I didn’t. I couldn’t, no matter how hard I tried. It was an uncomfortable read for sure, but that is part of the book’s charm. It is written with the finesse and imagery of poetry, and Nabokov crafts the perfect voice for the scarily intelligent but undoubtedly insane Humbert Humbert. If you can handle the content, then this is a book that everyone should read as a study of both language and humanity.
How long did it take to read: six days
For fans of: antagonist as narrator stories, moral ambiguity, philosophy, psychology, poetry, French
This book tastes like: burnt sherbet