Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
This is a very well written book. The words flow brilliantly and the vocabulary is tremendous. The descriptiveness of so many details is amazing. I am thoroughly impressed, especially since English is not Nabokov's first language.
Then...I am disgusted. You see, I have a 12 year old adopted daughter who happens to be quite beautiful. I have a 19 year old and a 4 year old also, but I will use the 12 year old as my example because Lolita was 12. Anyway, is my daughter a nymphet? I am quite sure there are people out there that think exactly that. That thought is revolting to me and in turn makes this book very hard to stomach.
I have seen the blurb that says it is a love story. I think that is total bull. This was not love. This was obsessive animal instinct in a man with zero self control and no idea what a father is. He is a very smart, cunning and calculating individual who deludes himself into thinking he is in love. He just pretended to be a father in order to corner his conquest in a situation where he was the authority, the provider, the security, the safety net. He used those to take advantage of this young girl.
I have seen where others have said that the words somehow make them feel sympathy for or empathetic toward the plight of Humbert Humbert. I never felt any of that. Then man was making conscious decisions and actively pursuing a self-proclaimed deviant lifestyle. From the moment he kissed Annabelle as a young man he was looking for a situation exactly like he was able to form with Dolores. Even when Dolores was under his control and after she was gone he was still watching and making comments about other little girls. He saw Dolores crying every night and did not care except for his own will and wishes. She would continually say "Oh no" when he made his advances. She flat asked him when they could stop traveling, stop doing disgusting things and live like normal people. She was just a little girl who was all alone and being used.
I also read a comment about moral relativism. What is done in other societies and during other periods of time does not make any difference. Nabokov was alive in the 19th century living in Europe and America. The book was set in America in the 1940's. I read this book in America today. That framework is what is relevant to this story, not some 15th century aboriginal tribe in New Zealand that says it is OK for a father to rape his 12 year old daughter.
I am thankful that Nabokov chose never to write about the actually sexual actions that the reader is left to imagine. This book is in no way pornographic.
One last thing, I don't speak, read or understand french. It is used so much that I feel that part of the story was lost on me. Do I care? Not very much.
I loved the writing but the subject matter is repulsive to me and therefore I cannot say in good conscience that I recommend this book to anyone but a die hard literature lover. I will say it is good because it is so well written.
I am glad I am finished with this one.