Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

This was my book club's selection for May.  I finished it on the 8th, but put off writing my review, hoping for enlightenment at our meeting on the 20th.  That didn't happen.  Many of the members (including me) found the book disturbing; some didn't finish it.

According to Wikipedia:

Lolita is a novel by Vladimir Nabokov, first written in English and published in 1955 in Paris and 1958 in New York, and later translated by the author into Russian. The book is internationally famous for its innovative style and infamous for its controversial subject: the protagonist and unreliable narrator, middle-aged Humbert Humbert, who becomes obsessed and sexually involved with a 12-year-old girl named Dolores Haze.

The novel is a tragicomedy narrated by Humbert, who riddles the narrative with word play and his wry observations of American culture. His humor provides an effective counterpoint to the pathos of the tragic plot. The novel's flamboyant style is characterized by double entendres, multilingual puns, anagrams, and coinages such as nymphet, a word that has since had a life of its own and can be found in most dictionaries, and the lesser used "faunlet." One of the novel's characters, "Vivian Darkbloom", is an anagram of the author's name.

As mentioned above, while I was disturbed by the book, I also recognized that it was well written.  Although I often didn't "get" the word play, and I was very annoyed by the fact that there were whole passages in French with no translation.  So I can't really say that I liked the book or that I would recommend it.  I rate it 2 out of 5.


freebird said...

I'd have to agree it wouldn't be fun to read with a lot of the passages in French. I'd have a bit of trouble with the 12 year old girl too even though it was a different time. And I'm not so sure about the times. My great-great-grandmother asked her daughter to wait till she was at least 18 to marry. That would have been in the 1880's.

Kathy A. Johnson said...

I haven't read this book, even though it appears on lists of all-time great books. It just never appealed, and there are many other "great" books that do appeal to me. I do appreciate your reviews, and I agree that it helps to have people to discuss it with.

Were the tornadoes in Oklahoma near you? I was hoping you and the family were/are safe.