Thursday, August 13, 2009


Title: Lolita
Author: Vladimir Nabokov
Rating: 4 Stars

Lolita is the classic of classics when it comes to modern contemporary tragicomedies. It is crazy, cynical, ironic, funny, lyrical, poised, witty, original, and ultimately (yes you guessed it) tragic. Lolita, written by Humbert Humbert in his jail cell, tells the story of tragic Humbert Humbert, a middle-aged (self-proclaimed handsome) professor who is flawed as any ancient Greek hero. The immaculate European man is, lyrics aside, a pedophile. His secret love and obsession for young girls, which he terms nymphets, is both passionate and obsolete. Because of this singular flaw in his immaculate being, Humbert Humbert falls madly in love at first sight with a beautiful and fickle creature of the prepubescent kind named Dolores Haze, or Lolita. Humbert Humbert's love for the youth leads him to take the only possible action he can think of of attaining the girl of his dreams: to marry her middle-aged mother. At once comedic and tragic, Humbert Humbert throws himself into a mad-cap of troubles and manages by his mere flights of fancy to become the apple of both mother and daughter's eyes. Maddened by his self-brought irony, H.H. can think of nothing better than to murder Lolita's mother in order to attain Lolita. As he conceives of murder, fate flies in to save mad-cap H.H., and Mrs. H.H. (Charlotte Haze) whom moments before had realized H.H.'s pedophilic intentions dies in a car accident. These mere acts of fate throw passionate H.H. and his lovely 12-year-old Lolita together, and they love as they never could have loved. (H.H. at this point proclaims that it was Lolita who seduced moral him in their first night together.) What follows is a year of travels with stepfather and stepdaughter consummating each night their paradoxical incest. Fickle Lolita, of the wild kind, quickly falls out of love with the sexual Humbert Humbert, and H.H. cannot help but continue to love his Lolita. The two finally settle down after a year of travels and rumpled nights where Humbert Humbert, posing as Lo's biological father, enrolls his darling sweet in school. Lust, it seems, comes to a standstill. H.H. is aware that Lo grows older and older and is slowly shedding her youthful nymphetness, yet still, he cannot help but love her. It is this back and forth yearning that tugs H.H. and Lolita once more to set away on their travels. This time, however, things are amiss. H.H. is almost sure that they are being followed, yet he cannot differ in his monstrous and genius mind whether or not it is reality or a figment of his mad-cap hallucinations. But surely enough, a change takes place in his pretty Lolita, and halfway through their journey, Lolita escapes. H.H. loses all trace of the girl he loves for many years until a letter arrives asking for money. Once again, the protagonist sets out to find his Lolita to make her his once more. But upon meeting her, and discovering that she no longer wishes to return with him, H.H. sets out to hunt down the man who had contrived to take her away. He succeeds, finds the man, and kills him. Thus pretty much ends H.H.'s endeavors towards love. Humbert gives in to the law and it is the end of H.H.'s freedom. It is noted that Lolita dies soon after in childbirth.

The sad, mad, crazy tale is twisted. Diabolically twisted. Beautiful. Nabokov writes with an eloquence unmatched, and even as one closes the book, one wonders, who was Humbert Humbert? Mad genius? Superfluous villain? A lonely man in love? A psychotic monster?

Or maybe, just maybe, was he all of that and more?


Post a Comment

Template by:
Free Blog Templates