Lolita: Not A Review

“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta. She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.”

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To the readers of Lolita, to those who have not yet read Lolita (why?!), to those who have fallen in love with Lolita, to those who have found Lolita-in another person, within themselves: Six decades back, Vladimir Nabokov did mankind a favour and wrote- Lolita.  Since then she has been filmed twice, been a musical, made a novel parody of-called ‘Granita’-where the narrator, Umberto, muses on his secret lust for Granita, an elderly woman (and you thought Lolita was filthy!), with a total of four other novels been written solely on the subject.

The infamous and much controversial story is about a middle-aged literature professor called Humbert Humbert, who is obsessed with a 12-year-old Dolores Haze, and with whom he becomes sexually involved after he becomes her stepfather. Lolita, as the readers find out in the course of the tale, is his private nickname for her. Dolores becomes Lolita after being robbed of her childhood by her stepfather. While the words filthy, vulgar, offensive are what may come to the reader’s mind when he starts to discover what the novel is about. But Lolita is so much more. Of patriarchy, childhood, and obsessions, if one should ever want to read Lolita it should be read for how it has been written. As Humbert Humbert, the novel’s protagonist, says, “You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style.” And he certainly doesn’t disappoint.

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Though, Lolita turned out to be Nabokov’s succès de scandale, it was initially rejected by 4 publishers who were “shocked” by the story and labelled it “lewd”. It didn’t take the novel much time to achieve the classic status and to be regarded as a masterpiece of 20th century Literature.

But what is Lolita today, at 60? The name has been deduced to imply that a young girl in her early teens is sexually precocious. Much has been debated on its nature and moral. What hasn’t already been written? On retrospection, Oscar Wilde comes to the rescue:

 “Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty. There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.” –Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Lolita-when you have thus read it, you might be sure as to ask yourself, “why did I read it anyway?” Was it because the book was unputdownable? Or because you secretly developed a liking for Professor Humbert and loathed yourself for the same?

There is a Humbert Humbert inside of you-wildly passionate, ever-consumed by the light of your life, preoccupied and obsessed about your sin, your soul. Lolita.

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Sheetal Harumalani

Nineteen year old passionate about fiction, poetry, and other unearthly things.

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