Book Review: Lolita

A rejection of pedophillia, this novel hardly glamorizes or justifies the actions of Humbert Humbert. Rather, the novel offers a look inside the mind of a tortured soul. The moral abombination of paedophilia is delivered as almost acceptable, developing conflict in the reader who feels both revulsion towards this trully terrible act and empathy for this character Humbert who is seduced by Lolita, falls in love and ultimately has his heart broken. 

However, Humbert understands his obsession is driving him insane as he contemplates a poem he wrote and reveals, "By psychoanalyzing this poem, I notice it is really a maniac's masterpiece. The stark, stiff, lurid rhymes correspond very exactly to certain perspeciveless and terrible landscapes and figures... I wrote many more poems. I immersed myself in the poetry of others. But not for a second did I forget the load of revenge". While Humbert recognizes his struggle, he is content with pursuing it. Reading on, I actually began to pity Humbert and his tortured soul; his insanity and most of all his humanity. Humbert begins to understand the full extent of the damage he had inflicted upon Lo. "I happened to glimpse from the bathroom, through a chance combination of mirror aslant and door ajar, a look on her face... that look I cannot exactly describe... and expression of helplessness so perfect that it seemed to grade into one of rather comfortable inanity just because this was the very limit of injustice and frustration--and every limit presupposes something beyond it--hence the neutral illumination."

Spoiler Alert: It is the ending that truly reveals the inner-struggle Humbert has within himself. Humbert tracks down the man who took Lolita away from him- another man who has committed the same sins that Humbert has- and brutally kills him. Because this man represents what Humbert hates most about himself, Humbert is symbolically destroying another man for the same sins he hates himself for committing.

While I struggled through the first half of this novel (describing the most lecherous manipulation on Humbert's part) by the end I was consumed by it. It is an examination of the destructive nature of selfish love: selfishness kills love- it is a black hole that can never be satisfied- it is self-pitting and never looks outside itself. Lolita's words to Humbert years later sums this idea up; "He broke my heart, you merely broke my life".

On the shelf to read next: something a little more uplifting.

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