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After reading Lolita, I didn’t know what to say. On one hand, it’s a book that is more-or-less entirely devoid of moral values. On the other hand, it really is an excellent piece of writing.

Lolita, as you probably have heard, centers around paedophilia. Humbert, the main character and protagonist, is obsessed with what he calls “nymphets”, little girls before the age of puberty. Through a coincidence, he meets and starts to obsess over Lolita, the daughter of his landlady. And towards that end, he even marries his landlady to remain close to her daughter. But when his new wife dies, he takes Lolita on a road trip and well, you can guess the rest.

To me, none of the characters in this book were sympathetic. Even Lolita, who is ostensibly the victim. She comes across as a selfish and manipulative brat and is generally unlikeable. She is the one who makes the first move on Humbert, and is even willing to exchange sexual favours for money and presents. While she is abused by Humbert, her moral corruption begins much earlier.

Humbert too, for all his smooth talking and euphemisms, is a disgusting man. He tries to justify his attraction by attributing it to a tragic romance while he was a child. And while he claims to try and preserve the purity of Lolita, he still commits unspeakable acts with her. Evidently, he’s never heard of the phrase “you can’t have your cake and eat it too”.

But curiously, the book is compelling. While I normally stop reading these types of books halfway, I read Lolita all the way to the end. Vladmir Nakabov is truly a master with words, and manages to convey the unspeakability of Humbert without using an explicit scenes.

So after some contemplation, I’ve come to see Lolita as a book that represents the fallen world. There are no good characters, and what occurs is what happens when mankind follows it’s natural impulses.  Of course, this makes sense, since redemption can only come through the saving power of Jesus Christ. The book however, makes no mention of Christianity whatsoever and gives a very bleak ending.

In conclusion, I would recommend this book, but only to mature readers.


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Published on 3 August, 2012. Last updated on

7 Comments

  1. Corey P.

    Thanks for the review, Eustacia. I’ve had my eye on this one for awhile, but the subject matter made me hesitant – I wasn’t sure if the author was going to get explicit. It sounds like he handles the material skillfully, though, and your review has convinced me to add it to my list. Nicely done. πŸ™‚

    • Corey P.

      On second thought… would you say there are positive takeaways for discerning Christians, or does the story just wallow in its own perverseness? I know you said that the book “makes no mention of Christianity,” and has a bleak ending, so it just got me thinking: besides the writing, is there really a whole lot of benefit in it?

    • Eustacia Tan

      Hmm… My main objection to this book is how at the end, there is no redemption. I suppose if you wanted to, you could read this book as an example of a world without God. It’s actually makes a powerful statement about how try as we might, we can never be good people on our own efforts – we end up rationalising our sins away.

      Personally, I feel that Nabokov himself despises Humbert, and the book in no way condones his actions.

      I would say that if you are curious about the book, but was hesitant to try it because you thought that it was full of explicit scenes, then by all means, give the book a go. But if you want something edifying, then you might want to skip over this book. It’s more of a negative example than a positive one.

      I hope this helps.

      ^_^

  2. Michael Wright

    Interesting, this is one I have been curious about for some time, but due to what I’ve heard about it I stayed away. You just might have changed my mind.

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