For years, I have desperately been hunting the opportunity to read Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, and finally, the moment arrived. For the past few days, I spent my time sitting in the coffee shops reading this captivating book. It is disgustingly beautiful, and delightfully troubling. A reader must mentally be prepared to unseen, unheard, invisible, and unthinkable stories and events in Lolita.
It is definitely unsettling for people in this day and age to see a man, probably in his 40s, having sexual affair with a 13 year old young girl. As Humbert Humbert, in the beginning, explains that this is the age that marriage and cohabitation before the age of puberty is uncommon, but by doing so, he also tries to familiarize the reader with his perversion. As such he makes effort to mask his predilection towards Dolores as something natural, which has historically been a common fact, he says. He provides examples of those notable figures in history who have married (would be better to say copulated) girls as younger as 8 years old. For instance, he says, old men of Lepcha of the Himalayas copulate with girls of eight, Dante fell in love with Beatrice when she was nine. Since Humbert Humbert's purpose of giving such examples is to justify his own sexual conduct toward Dolores Haze, he could also add Muhammad and Aisha in his list. This is a fact, though it angers Muslims to this day when it is brought up, even though the Humbert's psychopathic mentality is rampant among certian cultures in different Muslim countries. I wonder why he didn't mention Muhammad and his child bride, since he brings in Rahab of Jericho from the Book of Joshua in the Hebrew Bible, who was considered to be a harlot at ten years of age, and she helped the Israelites in capturing the city.
Lolita was first published in France. American publishers refused to publish it and editors reacted with aspersion and admonition. Some Americans found the book an insult to all Americans while some others took it personally, in some cases, they became suspicious of the author himself over the whole story. Most of them indicated that they did not finish the book, some read the first few pages and disgustingly put it away, and some hardly read it through.
Nabokov has wonderfully mastered the use of language. The reader will be surprised how eloquent and how elegant the prose has turn out despite English being not his first language. The author often finds himself confined in using words in English that do not translate the heart of the matter, therefore, the reader will encounter with compounds that are abundant.
I will try to reflect on this captivating book of the story of protagonist Humbert and his enchanting nymphet further in the next posts.