Thanks to Stanley Kubrick, every time I see a pair of red heart-shaped sunglasses I think of Lolita. I’ll admit I haven’t seen the movie (it’s on my list though), but I have read the book. At least I get a point for that, most times it’s the other way around.
I’m more familiar with Vladimir Nabokov’s book Lolita (1955), and it is without a doubt one of my all time favorites. It’s rich in clever descriptions, and his writing style is humorous, addicting, and controversial.
The main character is Humbert Humbert, a middle-aged professor, who becomes obsessed with a 12 year-old girl. His obsession is so strong that he often becomes tormented by his love for her. He moves from Paris to the US and searches for a place to stay. After meeting a widow and seeing her young daughter Dolores (“Lolita”) , Humbert chooses the widow’s place as his home-stay. In order to get closer to the young girl, he even decides to marry the widow who soon passes away after. Humbert and Lolita eventually get involved in a sexual affair together and go off on a trip across the US. Lolita soon loses interest in Humbert while he remains completely in love with her.
What is the significance of Lolita?
The topic no doubt is racy and obscene. Hence, Nabokov had much trouble finding a publisher for his novel. In fact, he could not find one in the US and went to France to have it published. There it was either exalted or despised. Not until 1958 was it allowed to be published in the US and became a bestseller.
The novel is recognized for its perceptive ability to portray sexuality and repression as well as Nabokov’s unique story-telling talents. His character Humbert Humbert often misconstrued the facts, and his narration was unreliable. For example, Humbert would claim that it was Lolita seducing him rather than the other way around.
Nabokov (1899-1977) had a true knack for word play.
To wrap-up, I’ll leave you with one of the most well-known quotes from Lolita:
Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth, Lo. Lee. Ta.