Actually, not the book itself but my perception of it in a sense. It is beautifully written & Humbert Humbert is one of the most fascinating characters in fiction, but I must say that every time I hear/read someone praising the 'love' between Lo & Humbert I'm a bit disgusted. It's like a vehicle for the simple minded to latch on to, to get off.
Dear RealGrrl; I read Lolita for the first time when I was a teenager, and so I guess I didn't recognize Humbert's perversion for what it was. Perhaps that was fortunate. I am now 63 and have read Lolita many times, largely because of my excitement at first reading, and how completely marvelous is Nabokov's use of the English language (when I was in college, Joseph Conrad was held up as the exemplar of novelists for whom English was not a first language, but what Nabokov does WITH the language surpasses Conrad. This young novelist Alexandor Heman, a Bosnian, is getting there. But Nabokov can take Lolita's class list, mostly unexceptional names, and make it read like a poem. Why? Because Humbert is indeed in love with Lolita. It is surely not reciprocated or even welcome, and is perverse for that reason, certainly there is no love "between" them, but I do not think Nabokov makes such a claim. For another underestimated (due to a bad movie version) book about obsessive love, I might recommend Scott Spencer's ENDLESS LOVE.
K. - go back and read the book and you will discover that "in the end" it is Lo, Dolly, Lolita that does the final seduction. HH is taken aback to realize his nymphet's innocence is all in the eye of the beholder. Hardly one sided.
I have always loved the book, and it is clearly, in some sense, a love story. But Hummie is a kidnapper, a rapist (certainly statutory), and a betrayer of a child's trust. He is, in other words, a monster, and it is Nabkov's genius that the reader sympathizes with him.
Chuck hits it exactly on the head: Humbert is widely-regarded as one of the most unreliable narrators in literature. There isn't a single moment in the novel, apart from the Foreword from "John Ray, Jr." that isn't told from H.H.'s point of view. One of the more telling examples of his questionable version of events is the discrepancy between the way H.H. rationalizes his attraction to prepubescents via the earliest passages that explain "nymphets" to the reader. Humbert's incredibly poetic dissection of the nymphet and her semi-mystical charms outright implies that a true nymphet is a rare thing - he even alludes that a classroom photo might only contain one of these fair creatures. And yet, he amazingly encounters other nymphets throughout the novel. While it is true that he only mentions them in passing and that they seem to demand little of his attention (so smitten is he with Lolita) but I think its clear that, in between the lines, Humbert is just your garden variety dirty old man with a thing for underage girls. Nabokov's genius, in my opinion, is how well he buries these little insights in the midst of what passes as a memoir and while I grant you that the details are certainly in the eye of the beholder, it is still a certainty that H.H.'s side of the story is highly suspect.
After many years I finaly read "Lolita" . I found it to be a book I could not put down . The idea of what is legal and what is not has nothing to do with the book . Hello , it's fiction ! Vladmir uses the story to capture the imagination , it speaks sexually , but leaves much to the imagination , it teases and sparks something in our shadow . He is so pin point on the slow seduction of Lolita . The wining of her trust , the casual brush against her arm . All these things calculated and planed out in his mind . Going over every detail . He also tells why he is so interested in Nymphet's . Trying to recapture his youth through them .
Yes Mark this is exactly Nabakov's genius - to turn something hideous, a story about a `monster', into an unforgettably beautiful book. What a piece of art it is. I have read it a few times and never tire of the beauty of the language.