Wednesday, September 16, 2009


So one of the other bloggers is reading Vladimir Nabokov's book Lolita now. What's fascinating, to me, is that she is barely older than the title character in the book. Which I read over a year ago.

Infectious Asian (Stephanie 周) these posts: 1. Lolita: 2. Nabokov and Lolita - Nymphets in the bellfry: 3. Charlotte Haze and her dishy daughter: 4. Oh no! Lolita has absconded! :

I cannot say that the characters in the book are very attractive. Lolita is described in a way that makes clear that her delightful physique (if you are inclined towards pedophilia) is not matched by any intellectual appeal. She is shallow, spoiled, whiny, and very impressed with herself. Having sex with older men, especially Humbert Humbert, seems to be her way of both asserting her individuality and affirming her own sense of self-worth.

Humbert Humbert is sympathetic in his gift for description, but that aside, a most unpleasant little man. Quilty is a pompous pervert. Several others are drips, bores, oafs, and mentally unstable.

The least likeable person in the book dies far too soon to give more than a nauseating aftertaste. Charlotte Haze is pretentious, vain, temperamental, and just plain mental. She is possibly the least mature individual in Nabokov's tale. Her sexuality, such as it is, is repulsive. She never grew up. I think that her predatory lust for Humbert Humbert represents a Lolita-like tendency in herself that was never satisfied. She is more frustrated, and has been so for far longer, than any grown-up woman should be. Consequently she is the comic relief.

Nabokov doesn't like minor characters providing amusement, so he kills her off in a dull way. Her friends and neighbors display more interest in her unbereaved widower's mental condition going forward than in her fate.
Understandable - there was nothing sad about it. It was fitting, and about time.

1 comment:

Steffy said...

Ooh, thanks for the mention!