what are your views on Lolita?
This is a suuuuper vague question haha Obviously I love the book because I have a blog themed around it, but I think it is often hugely misinterpreted.Get ready for a loooong response!
Fist of all It was NOT meant to be an erotic novel (Nabokov purposefully skipped over the
sex statutory rape scenes), and it was NOT meant to be a “romance novel” or “Love story”. People often mistake it for a romance novel (seriously though if you do ur sick) because it is written in the style of writing of the romantic era from the (1700s-1800s). The writing style is apparent in the way the scenery is described so vividly and richly, and in the way Humbert values his own emotions more than the rules of society and being logical. The novel focuses on Humbert’s inner narrative which is also common in writing of that era. Here is an article about the romantic era x . I must stress that romanticism is an artistic style from a certain point in history and does not equal “a love story”. It’s just a creative style, for example Frankenstein was written in the romantic era and written in the romantic style of writing, does that make it a love story? Noooooooo!! I would classify Lolita as more of a tragicomedy (much like Romeo and Juliet NOT MEANT TO BE A LOVE STORY GUYS!)
Lolita was not written to condone or encourage pedophilia!!! It is thought that the author Vladimir Nabokov was himself abused as a child at the hands of his own uncle. He spent a great deal of time studying pedophiles, hebophiles, ephebophiles ect. to gain a greater understanding of how their minds work. He tried to learn about people such as Lewis Carroll (obviously the author of Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland) who was thought to have been “in love” or infatuated with Alice Liddell when she was a child. Lewis Carroll ( real name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) was known to take nude photographs of children (including Alice) with their parents consent (still weird). Even though depictions of nude children were quite common in the art of the time (Victorian era) Nabokov was said to have been quite disgusted with Lewis Carroll and took him for a pedophile. Alice in wonderland was also written in the romantic style of writing mainly how the book favors absurdity and nonsense over rationality. I think Lolita was meant to be a look into the mind of a pedophile and we all know we are secretly intrigued by messed up people! why do you think there are so many crime documentaries huh? This article x talks more about Nabokov’s fascination with Lewis Carroll. Also here is a quote from said article that I think sums up his intended purpose of Lolita, to open people’s eyes. “One chess problem in particular, which was devised by Nabokov in Paris in late 1939 or early 1940, was essential to his overall plan to ensure children were not seduced by predatory incestuous male relatives”
As for the relationship between Humbert and Lolita it was not love. Their relationship was full of coercion, emotional and physical abuse, and manipulation, not to mention the HUGE power imbalance between an adult and a child. Lolita literally did have nowhere else to go and Humbert revels in this fact, he enjoys how helpless she is and is honestly, in my opinion truly evil. Dolores (Lolita) is 12, recently orphaned, and being 12 has no money and a very basic education. While Humbert is a grown man in his 30’s with all the power and influence that comes with being an adult, a superior education, and I’m assuming quite a bit of money in the bank! I mean he can afford to take two very extended trips around the USA with money being no real issue. Humbert claims to adore and treasure Dolores yet throughout the book he hits her, threatens her, and generally isolates her from kids her own age. Dolores is so desperate to get away from Humbert she hordes her allowance away in hopes that she can use the money she saves up to escape. She even performs sexual favors for Humbert so that he will give her more money. And when he finds she has been saving up to escape he gets very angry and takes the money away from her. Lolita is quite literally trapped. Humbert also at one point planned to impregnate Dolores, wait until that child was old enough for his liking (eight or nine probably) and then commit incest with his and Dolores’s child. So If you are not completely disgusted with Humbert yet there’s that … I also feel like Humbert was trying to take away some of Dolores’s identity by calling her Lolita, Lolita was not her real name it was more of a pet name Humbert used to assert ownership over Dolores, that’s not love.
Why I do I love Lolita so much? Lolita has become an iconic character and she represents a sort of unlikely power to me because she is someone who never lets her spirit be broken. Dolores did not have an easy life. Her father, with whom she had a great relationship with died when she was very young, and her mother resented and mistreated her (again emotional abuse). Then she has to deal with Humbert who she was probably hoping would become a father figure to her, and his manipulation and abuse. She tries to escape to Clare Quilty who she thinks she is in love with (she is so desperate for someone to truly care about her that she falls for a pedophile) and he too just tries to use her. She finally finds a nice boy closer to her age and even though she is living in squalid conditions with him she still tries her very best to be happy! Dolores goes through so much pain in her short life and she is still always making jokes and being her sarcastic self and trying to be as happy as she can through all of it! Humbert is an unreliable narrator and we don’t get to see anything from Dolores’s perspective but from the small snippets of dialog she has in the novel it’s obvious that she is just brilliant. She does what she can to fight back and mess with Humbert’s head, she always has a comeback or insult ready, and she finds joy in what little things she can. The writing in the novel is also so incredibly beautiful and vivid, it’s clever and tragic and darkly funny, I truly think despite it’s controversy that it is a masterpiece.
This quote from Vera Nabokov (Vladimir’s wife and the person to whom the novel was dedicated) sums up what most people don’t understand about Lolita perfectly.
“I wish someone would notice the tender description of [Lolita’s] helplessness, her pathetic dependence on the monstrous Humbert Humbert , and her heartrending courage all along, culminating in that squalid but essentially pure and healthy marriage, and her letter, and her dog. And that terrible expression on her face when she had been cheated by Humbert Humbert out of some little pleasure that had been promised. They all miss the fact that ‘the horrid little brat’ Lolita is essentially very good indeed—or she would not have straightened out after being crushed so terribly, and found a decent life with poor Dick more to her liking than the other kind”