Lolita by Nabokov
Have you ever condemned a man or even a literary character so much so that you understand him and have sympathy and adulation towards him which in the end commensurates that animosity. Well, Lolita isn’t really about Lo. but Mr. Humbert Humbert’s memory of her; impish, manipulative and destructive. What gaudy adjectives can’t be used to describe his personality. Humbert is a compulsive ego-maniac, hand wringing, etherally guilt ridden and timid inside, yet he is a gentleman. However, it is almost ubiquitous that Humbert is a paedophile and in luck after he reaches the Haze household, rather reluctantly and meets Lo. the light of his life, fire of his loins, his sin, our conscience, his soul, our disgust. One can sense that it’s always going to be Humbert vs I (the reader) from the outset.
It all starts with Annabel, Humbert’s childhood love, his one, true love but unconsummated and unfulfilling. In Freudian terms, it is called Repression (also Displacement). In societal terms, it is called Revulsion. However, being a piece of high art, it can be called manipulative Reasoning, sometimes even psychoanalytical. Nabokov excels distinctively on it. He takes a deranged character, a villain who is probably to remain so interminably on the conscience of our thick, mushy, inhibited and disapproving human mind into a loveable, understandable and shielding, anti- antagonist hero who is to be admired following Nabokov manipulates us by incessant self loathing.
Throughout the book, there is high waists and sexual innuendos observed but Nabokov succeeds in deviating our collective-inherent consent of villainy into a truly apprehensive love story. It is certainly a masterpiece and owing to the fact that English wasn’t even Nabokov’s first language makes it truly intriguing. The mordant wits and dark comedy Nabokov has applied makes it magnetic to readers. For whatever purposes it was written other than literary purposes, it wasn’t written for sententious overtures. In the end, one truly finds it difficult to acknowledge that it is a love story rather than sexual ribald of a novel. Even though one’s mind sympathizes, one’s heart rebels.
Mr. Humbert Humbert: Middle aged, Hollywood handsome, intellectual, writer, culturally superior (secretly calls young girls from 9–14 age group as Nymphets), a Pedophille. I think, a Rapist as well. Also, Lolita’s step-father.
Lolita: Real name is Dolores Haze. A Nymph. Sensually manipulative ( that’s what Humbert thinks), has Electra Complex, not a virgin, utterly dislikes her mother, a brat, destructive, lustful and clearly doesn’t reciprocate Humbert’s love for her. (Well, you know, if you infer it as love)
Originally published at thekathmandudes.com on August 18, 2015.