Saturday, November 3, 2012

Reading Lolita--in the Car

I felt like such a hypocrite. I'd read Reading Lolita in Tehran and I'd heard Azar Nafisi speak at NCTE. I'd read the other books--the ones by Austen, Fitzgerald, and James--mentioned in the work, but I had never actually read Lolita.  I had a general, fuzzy idea of  the novel's subject matter--creep pedophilia--but I honestly had no idea about specifics as Humbert Humbert and his stepdaughter Dolores travel across the U.S., presumably even through North Carolina. Who knew?

So when searching the library's audiobook shelves, my head atilt, I came across Nabokov's novel read by Jeremy Irons, a strong selling point, I checked it out.

I had no idea how clever, how darkly humorous the book would be. The voice of the narrator Nabokov creates is almost unintentionally self-revelatory.  Humbert Humbert is alternately self-loathing, apologetic, boastful, arrogant, analytical, spontaneous.  Lolita--Lo--Dolores is seen only through his eyes, but while she at first seems confident, even aggressive, Humbert unwittingly reveals a child, a victim plotting her own escape.

Because of the subject--the sexual abuse of a child--I would not recommend this novel to just anyone. In fact, there are some friends whom I would most decidedly tell, "Do not read this book." But after reading the novel--and yes, I do consider listening as reading--I completely understand why this clever, beautifully written, haunting book has earned its place in the literary canon.
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1 comment:

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