Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov

Well, another entry in the “books that several other 50 Bookers have already reviewed this year.” These are actually sort of nice, since they let me skip the introductory summary of the book and get right into my thoughts about it.

Mostly, I just want to echo what Carlton and Chris both mentioned: this is probably one of the most immaculately crafted English books of all time. The entire thing is like poetry, which can be a little disturbing when the language is being used to describe Humbert's lust for his 12-year-old nymphet. Also, the book is packed with tons and tons of allusions and wordplay, most of which I didn't even realize existed until I flipped through Carlton's annotated edition.

Lolita is only about 300 pages long, but it was one of the slowest reads of the year for me. The language is so dense that skimming is virtually impossible. Important events will happen within one or two well-crafted lines, and the inattentive reader can find himself confused in the middle of the next paragraph. There are also a couple chapters near the middle where the book bogs down with Humbert's exhaustive list of places he and Lo have visited.

The ending of the books picks right back upthough, with one of the oddest encounters ever between Humbert and his mysterious nemesis. It's comical and disturbing, and seems like an appropriate way to end this literary, perverse, bizarre meditation on love and obsession.

Edit: Blogger won't let me post images right now. Sorry visual learners.


Carlton Farmer said...

I agree with the bogging down in the middle.
I believe pederasty refers to intercourse between an adult male and a boy, not a girl.

Brent Waggoner said...

The tag was already there, so I used it, pervert.

Carlton Farmer said...

Know your words, son. Know your words.

Christopher said...

That's true.

Brent Waggoner said...

You started it, Christopher. I hate you.

Carlton Farmer said...

Hate is such a strong word.