Have you ever read Lolita?
To be honest, I haven’t… I tried… twice… but I couldn’t finish it. It was in my “books-to-read” list for a long time since a friend recommended it and, come on! It’s Nabokov! I bought it after attending a lecture by Azar Nafisi about her Reading Lolita in Tehran, which I bought and read and after that I decided it was time to read Lolita, Nabokov’s. I started it the first time last summer when finished the course feeling free to read whatever I wanted. I started it and started to hate Humber Humbert from the very beginning. I couldn’t continue travelling inside his mind so I left it with the excuse “it’s not the book I need to read now.”
Two weeks ago I picked it up again, thinking “ok, Nabokov, what is it that you want to tell me”… and after two weeks of reading a man’s thoughts ( a man in his 40s or 50s, I don’t remember and it makes no difference anyway) excusing himself for touching and having sexual relationships with a 12 year old girl… I can’t continue reading it.
Is it a bad book? I think it’s probably one of the best books I’ve ever “read.”
Is this a contradiction? Not at all! It makes sense!
One of the things I learnt reading Nafisis’ Reading Lolita… was that Nabokov doesn’t judge his character. He just gets into his mind and lets him talk, he gives him a voice the same way Fowles lets the psychopath in The Collector say whatever it is he has to say! Does that make Fowles a psychopath? No. Does this “free speech” make Nabokov a pederast. Of course not! What is it that makes this book so good? First, it’s very well and beautifully written, although I can’t bear it, it is. Secondly, as mentioned, the author is not judging his character and that is admirable when dealing with such a profile. Nevertheless, he shows us the negative side when he makes us aware that Humbert Humbert is writing his story to a jury. And third, it affects me. I find it really really difficult to read because I can’t stand a man talking that way, excusing himself like that, talking about a poor girl as he does like if it was her fault or as if she was the one provoking him. We have even created the term “Lolita” to talk about a provocative girl when the real Lolita is just a little girl, not the picture Humbert Humbert creates for us of a pure and sexual object. The Lolita that Humbert describes is just a picture of his inner sexual desires, the object he has created so that Lolita we read about is not real.
Because it affects me, because it breaks something inside me and makes me hate him, Lolita is a great book.
No spoilers, I haven’t finished it and I’m not going to finish it, at the moment. Because I’m not as good as Nabokov I’m not going to let Humbert continue his speech, because he doesn’t exist if I don’t imagine him.
“I need you, the reader, to imagine us, for we don’t really exist if you don’t.”
It’s just a tale of one of the world’s faces. It’s a pity it exists, whether you imagine him or not.