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Vladimir Nabokov: Lolita

Discussion in 'Fiction Books' started by Love4OneAnother, Oct 22, 2004.

  1. Love4OneAnother

    Love4OneAnother kickbox

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    :eek: I had heard magnificent things about this book, so at the library today I attempted to check it out.
    However, when heading to the line to check in/out, my mother suddenly decides to be inquisitive and look at what I was getting. 0.o (I am 15 years old, by the way, but I read on a higher level than most and enjoy that kind of a thing).

    So, I had 3 books: The Dubliners, by Joyce, The Moviegoers, by Percy, and of couse, Lolita. My mother recognizes it and flips out, and gasps and yanks it from my grasp and places it on the nearest shelf, then berates me for attempting to take out a 'pornographic book'. I explained to her that I was not reading it for that aspect of it, but as a literary work, but she wasn't hearing any of it. I was very embarrased.

    Anyway, I wanted to know if this book is worth sneaking. I've heard rave things about it, and Nabokov himself, is it worth the trouble?
     
  2. Ashlea

    Ashlea New Member

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    I don't suppose you could talk to your mother and explain that you are old enough for it? That would be optimal, but I would understand if that wasn't possible, I know my mom wouldn't be easily persuaded. But then, she wouldn't have recognized the book either.

    It's an excellent and important book, but probably not worth having a huge family bust up over it. You can always read it later.
     
  3. warm_enema

    warm_enema New Member

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    It really isn't all that smutty. Perhaps, you could tell her to go **** herself until she reads it and then has an informed opinion.

    Ashlea, as much as I enjoy you, I'm going to disagree. Yes, you need to read it. It is worth sneaking. Besides what can she do, take something away? Oh no, the horror.
     
  4. Shade

    Shade New Member

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    You must get your intelligence and discernment from your father, Love4OneAnother. Get a friend to borrow it for you. To be honest I wouldn't have got that much out of it at 15, but maybe you're more advanced than I was!

    Lolita is a phenomenon, for all sorts of reasons. It is one of the few literary novels of the 20th century (along with the likes of Catch-22 and Nineteen Eighty Four) that has put a new word or phrase into the common language. It is the work of a man writing in not his first or second, but third language. It is responsible for the worst rhyming couplet in musical history*. And its subject matter, of a paedophile 'relationship' is utterly contemporary - so it doesn't fade and date like other fifty-year-old books (Lucky Jim, anyone?) - and also makes it hard to believe that it was published in the prudish 1950s. Of course, it almost wasn't: like that other great "obscene" novel Ulysses, it was first published in Paris. Nabokov in his afterword writes:

    The other reason why it has not dated is because of its innovative language, which while nowhere near Joycean - or even, to me, Marquezian - complexity, does take a bit of getting used to. (Nabokov described it as "a record of my love affair with the English language.") The supple and witty language is never better displayed than in the scene at the end between Humbert and Quilty, which comes at the start of Kubrick's film version (another distinction: great book becomes great film shocker), and which I had presumed was mostly Peter Sellers' improvisation ("You will only wound me hideously and then rot in jail while I recuperate in a tropical setting"): but it's all there on the page.

    Lolita is, as you surely know, and whatever the naysayers may claim, a love story. And there are plenty of naysayers, even in the 21st century, where you might expect sophistication enough to understand the difference between writer, or reader, and character. One saddened Amazon reviewer states "If you want to read erotic descriptions of children and sickeningly-detailed depictions of child molesting, the law is apparently powerless (or at least unwilling) to stop you, but please, please, don't hide behind "art." Admit, at least to yourself, what you're really doing; admit what you are." Needless to say, there are not really any erotics or sickeningly-detaileds in Lolita. Yes, unsurprisingly, it's all in his mind.

    Humbert Humbert relates his love story from jail, where he awaits trial for murder. It has been edited by "John Ray, Jr." after Humbert's death, who also provides a foreword where he gives away all the protagonists' fates without the reader realising. The name Humbert Humbert is significant: it is the narrator's own choice of fictional name - the "double rumble" which Nabokov felt carried the right amount of sinister intent - and reflects his two personas. There is Humbert the rapacious paedophile, with his authentic attention to detail and planning, and his enormous cruelty - the last sentence of Part 1 of the novel packed a punch like I hadn't felt since A Handful of Dust. And there is Humbert the repentant regretter: filled with self-loathing and longing at the end of the book, in an exceptionally moving scene where he realises that he really loves the grown-up Lolita.

    Humbert is a mesmerising narrator, charming, repellent, pitiable and witty. Despite its occasional forays into picaresque road-movie territory, there is not a single boring page in the book, for now I know where Martin Amis gets his ambition never to write a sentence that someone else could have written. (As Humbert warns us at the start: "You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style.") If you're going to read Lolita - and why wouldn't you? - I recommend the annotated version, which will not only give you more background and notation than you will ever require, but also enable you to identify who the hell they're talking about at one crucial point of the plot, and to spot the same character's preshadowings, as he appears and vanishes and vanishes and appears throughout the book's first two-hundred-and-fifty pages before he actually comes centre stage, rather like Brad Pitt in Fight Club.

    Time, then, to reacquaint myself with the other Nabokovs I have, and have surely read, but which I can't remember anything about either. They will hardly match the perfection of Lolita, a novel for which I reserve the highest praise: that is, to shut up about it, and leave it to Martin Amis:

    ---

    * "He sees her / He starts to shake and cough / Just like the old man in / That book by Nabokov" - The Police, Don't Stand So Close To Me. For shame!
     
  5. warm_enema

    warm_enema New Member

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    I'm an idiot.
     
  6. Shade

    Shade New Member

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    No you're not! ;)
     
  7. cajunmama

    cajunmama Active Member

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    Love4OneAnother- Ignore all of their ^^^bad advice. :cool:
    Here's my opinion. I am a mother and have been a daughter, so I am speaking with a little experience from both sides. In order to show her you are mature enough to read it, you must behave in a mature way, which is NOT to sneak it. Ask her to read it first and let her form an opinion based on information, not rumor. Approach her in a clam, non-confrontational manner when she is calm and in a good mood. If she still says no, I recommend you not push it further. Lolita isn't going anywhere. When you are of age, do as you please. Actions speak louder than words. Show her she can trust you in this and you may reap the benefits elsewhere.


    Just so you know, I run a benevolent dictatorship in my household and the Constitution of the United States of America stops at my door. I exercise all rights of censorship of materials I deem inappropriate for consumption by any and all of the children contained within said household. Yes, I am a "Mean Mommy". Just ask my children. :D
     
    Author - Brad Jensen likes this.
  8. Ashlea

    Ashlea New Member

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    Note: my previous advice would not have been acted on when I was 15. :) But that doesn't change the fact that it (and especially Cajunmama's advice) is still very good.
     
  9. Irene Wilde

    Irene Wilde New Member

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    It sounds like all the Moms are on the same page here. Whether or not you are "advanced" enough to appreciate the book, "sneaking" it shows a lack of maturity and will certainly undermine your mother's trust in you, which could have other repercussions in your life beyond your reading list.

    There are plenty of other excellent books that you can read for the next couple of years which will broaden your horizons and help you and your mother maintain an open relationship.

    However, I would ask your Mom about her objections. Has she read the book or only heard about it? What was she reading at 15? Did she ever read a book she thought she was "ready" for, only to discover she wasn't? Or read a book she thought was supposed to be "scandalous" and found that it was more thought provoking than erotic?

    And if she embarassed you at the library, talk about that, too. I think that might be the most important issue here.

    Irene Wilde
     
  10. Love4OneAnother

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    Woo.. this is confusing. -.-

    My mother never read the book, no. And no, she didn't exactly *embarass* me at the library, no one that I knew was around, but I did feel a little bad.. I don't want her to think I'm some perverted kid that likes to read erotic fiction for fun.

    I don't really think talking to her will help, either. We usually don't have riffs over this kind of thing-- my brother doesn't read unless required to, same with my father. They watch tv. My mother loves that I would rather curl up in my room with a book than watch MTV. So she lets me alone, most of the time, to read what I will.
    I guess she would probobly like it if I did discuss what I was reading with her..but we've never done that. She likes completely different things than I do, and so we never really talked about books, just went into the library and then wandered our seperate ways.
    And so I guess you guys are right-- there are so many other books on my 'Must Read' list, and that one isn't going anywhere.

    However, I wanted this one!! xD While I feel like a small child throwing a tantrum, I had heard such things about this book, and Shade's post has only made me yearn to read it more.

    But I'll wait. At least for another year and a half, when I can drive myself to the library. :D

    Thanks guys! :rolleyes:

    And on side note, what about Vladimir Nabokov's other works? In particular, Pale Fire.. I've read a small bit of it, and it also seems fantastic, but is there anything objectionable in there? =/ I wouldn't want to go around my mother and try and get another "pornographic book" by the same author, she'd get really angry. xD
     
  11. warm_enema

    warm_enema New Member

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    Pale Fire, is fun. I don't recall anything remotely smutty in it.
     
  12. Shade

    Shade New Member

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    I doubt she'll have heard of Pale Fire, and after all it's the reputation rather than the content with Lolita that she's worried about.

    Pale Fire is a masterclass in cleverness but not quite the masterpiece that Lolita is. You can read some thoughts here.
     
  13. mr_michel

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    rent the movie (kubrick's one) watch it, depending on how do you like it, you cant decide if waiting a couple of years or proceed with your attemps of skeaking a copy of the book.
    if your mom catch you watching the movie just say, but mom ¡its kubrick!
     
  14. warm_enema

    warm_enema New Member

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    I've tried to watch both movies and failed. They don't have the emotion of the book.
    "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.
    She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks, She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the doted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita."

    The movies miss that.
     
  15. Love4OneAnother

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    Gah. :( Are you trying to make me break my resolve?

    must......read.....book....
     
  16. Irene Wilde

    Irene Wilde New Member

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    I'm currently reading "Pale Fire" and I haven't come across anything "objectionable." The narrator is openly homosexual and makes references to his affairs with young males, but they are mostly subtext, so far. I don't know if your mother has an issue with homosexuality in general, but certainly there hasn't been anything graphic or detailed.

    Irene Wilde
     
  17. cajunmama

    cajunmama Active Member

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    NO NO NO !!! Reread what I said earlier.
     
  18. Crystal

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    Like his frankness! "don't hide behind art." :rolleyes:
     
  19. warm_enema

    warm_enema New Member

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    It is something I would normally do, but it wasn't my intent this time.
     
  20. Rogue

    Rogue New Member

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    Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov *full of spoilers*

    I'm just reading this book and it is so unbelieveably cruel. Humbert Humbert is truley the nastiest and creepiest person I've ever come across in a book. What he is doing to this little girl is so shocking (and I'm not only talking about the sex)!!! He is threatening and blackmailing her all the time and tells her that she will end up as a ward of the Department of Public Welfare.
    I quoted some parts I thought were particulary disgusting:

    This doesn't mean I think this is a bad book. Instead I value it highly as it is like a perfect horror movie but with an earnest background. It is good 'cause it makes me think and understand why often young victims of rape, sexual and/or mental abuse remain silent. Furthermore it is perfectly well written!
     

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