Monday, 16 October 2017

Thoughts on Lolita And Expectations v Reality

I finally got around to reading Nabokov's Lolita. It's take roughly ten years since I first discovered it but really it wasn't for wont of trying. At 19 I had picked it up many times at the library and always ended up shelving it again. It seemed, creepy, and so I always ended up putting it away again. At this stage I knew it was about a grown man who was infatuated with young girls but I hadn't really heard it lauded universally as one of the greatest books ever written.

Well I finally got around to reading it this year and while I enjoyed it, it really was a difficult book for me to make my mind up about. Maybe it was about knowing too much before I went into it. There was no surprise at the character of Humbert Humbert. I knew that I was supposed to fall for his charming ways. I already knew his secret and that he was supposed to charm me into rooting for his unconventional love story.

It's just that it didn't happen that way. I enjoyed the book. I was enamoured with Nabokov's writing. But I didn't really like Humbert Humbert. I didn't find him charming at all and that was kind of the crux of this book. I was supposed to be grappling with liking a character who was doing something legally and morally wrong! It's just that having known all about the book and what I was supposed to be thinking, I ended up feeling the opposite.

I wonder what I would have thought of it ten years ago without the weight of expectation on my shoulder reading it. Ten years ago Lolita was just a book I wanted to read for no other reason than I had heard the name. I enjoyed Lolita. I love Nabokov's writing. Hell, I even had a favourite sentence three pages in (he describes Humbert Humert's father's lineage as a 'salad of racial genes'). I'm just not sure it lived up to the expectation of being the best thing I ever read, which is an unfair pressure.

It can be hard to quieten the noise of others sometimes. I watched a video recently of someone who had just read Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and they had mused on something similar. They just thought it was going to be, more. More what, they weren't sure. I guess that's how I felt about Lolita.

After watching Better Than Food's book review of Lolita, it turns out I'm not the only one. His video says it much more eloquently than me.

No comments

Post a Comment

© Sundays and Ink. All rights reserved.