I have no issue with reading books that deal with difficult subjects so long as they deal with them appropriately - ie highlight the wrongness of the action.
Ah, but V.N. does highlight how it's wrong. From your
We are clearly meant to regard Humbert as a moral abomination, and even Humbert eventually concedes (it is one of the book's most beautiful and unforgettable passages) that in exploiting Lolita he has gratuitously destroyed another human being.
And while I have not read the book, many who have, have criticised it for its portrayal of a paedophile. I did not suggest the book was 'cheap smut' but if there is in any way a tacit or not so tacit approval of having a sexual relationship with a child in it then it is inappropriate.
And where specifically in the book, is it stated that he is in the right? Is there a line where he wistfully muses about his love and how he "completes" her? The Slate link indicates otherwise and totally undermines your premise here. Uncomfortable passages of his passion does not equate a full scale endorsement of the action, just as much as a movie with a person who does drugs, can have an anti-drug message. As cene by itself where someone is snorting a line of coke does not make it an endorsement alone. Correlation is not causation.
And there is also a fair bit of discussion as to whether or not Nabokov himself was a closet paedophile given that he addressed the subject in 4 different stories/books - "Dar"; "The Enchanter" ; "Lolita" and "Ada"
What evidence is there that he was? Is there a legal history? Is there a history of accusations? Why hasn't anyone stepped forward? Surely the man did not live his ENTIRE LIFE without acting on such an abhorrent impulse. How solid is the people's court of psychoanalysis? Could it be that like many authors, he had some "pre" writings that were released later? The Enchanter
is a case in point. And before anyone argues that The Enchanter
is glorification of the said crime, it must be remembered that the offending party ends up committing suicide by getting hit by a car. It is clear the work is "pre-Lolita" as it is much simpler and does not show a well polished form of writing like Lolita
And an excellent blog post on why Lolita is not sexual precocious
Of course she wasn't, Humbert was a pervert and that is very clear to anyone who has read the book.
highlights how the name has entered popular culture and the damage it does to view sexual abuse victims as the instigators of their own rapes.
And such things are a perversion of Nabokov's book about a pervert.