It’s no use, he sees her
He starts to shake and cough
Just like the old man in
That book by Nabokov
I never really understood that line in the song until I read the name of the author of this book. Yes, that is how much of a sheltered childhood I had.
I’m sure you have heard of this book, or if not, at least are familiar with the name, or even one of the movie adaptations that have been made. The subject is well known – a grown man falls in love with a 12 year old girl. Certainly a controversial topic, and such has been the history of the novel. Despite the controversy, it is widely read and considered a literary classic.
Now, like many other ‘classics’ that I have read, I have no idea why this is considered to be such. It is poorly written, has unmarked time jumps, and is filled with pages and pages of rambling that have nothing to do with the main plot. I suspect that the only reason this is famous is because its about a pedophile. There are times where Nabokov has his characters go on and on about other people and their descriptions of them, even though they have absolutely no relevance to the plot. The ramblings add nothing at all. If you removed them the book might even be a third (or more) shorter.
This led me to thinking many times “Why am I reading this? What does this have to do with anything?” and in fact often when a ramble had ended and we got back to the here and now, I had look back to when the ramble started to remind myself of the context now that we had returned to the main story.
All this is a shame because at times the rest of the story makes great use of the Unreliable Narrator style. Humbert talks completely normally about his desires and intimacy with Dolores, so much so that you have to stop and go “wait a minute, this is a child!” Nabokov does a good job of lulling you into Humbert’s world view. Was it indeed a consensual situation as is presented? Or was Dolores an unwilling participant all along? We will never know the answers because we only ever see things from Humbert’s point of view.
Can I recommend the book? Definitely. Everyone should read books that are a challenge, both in subject matter and in style. There is no finer way to sharpen ones brain than by tackling a difficult read.
Will it be for everyone? Certainly not.