Written by Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita is one of the most controversial books ever. The controversy is sparked by the fact that the novel details the love and lust that a stepfather (Humbert Humbert) feels for his twelve year old stepdaughter Lolita. The prologue of the book narrates as if written by Humbert Humbert himself, while in jail. The author grips the reader from the first page on with this use of metafiction (a form of self-referential literature concerned with the art and devices of fiction itself).
But what runs as a strong undercurrent throughout the novel is the lust which reaches a point of incest and paedophilia when Humbert marries Lolita’s mother to be around her. Scandalous though the sexual scenes may be, I felt a strong sense of sympathy for Humbert. After all, the world preaches that love knows no borders or boundaries. Then why must it be restricted by social customs or age, that too, when he wasn’t her first lover. Even at the tender age of twelve she had lost her virginity to a friend. If we can’t keep our preteens safe from their own choices, how can we judge a man who did nothing but love her and want to protect her?
The argument that sex is too much of a psychological incident for a twelve year old doesn’t hold well because then it is too much whether she is bedded by a 14 year old or a 44 year old. His descriptions make a lady of a girl; make her beautiful and seductive in a way beyond all imagination and desire. Lolita is a must read, because it is one of those books that one must have an opinion about. And after all, the blatant ‘twirling around on a finger’ of a grown man by a mere child, is a treat to the temptress of a woman.
Quote: “You have to be an artist and a madman, a creature of infinite melancholy, with a bubble of hot poison in your loins and a super-voluptuous flame aglow in your subtle spine (oh, how you have to cringe and hide!), in order to discern at once, by ineffable signs—the slightly feline outline of a cheekbone, the slenderness of a downy limb, and other indices which despair and shame and tears of tenderness forbid me to tabulate—the deadly little demon among the wholesome children; she stands unrecognized by them and unconscious herself of her fantastic power.”