Who wrote this book and when?
The book “Lolita” was written by Vladimir Nabokov in 1955, and has been a highly controversial book ever since.
Has there been a movie made of it?
Yes, two, including one by Stanley Kubrick.
Who are the main characters?
Humbert Humbert – the child molester and narrator
Dolores Haze, or “Lolita” – Humbert’s prey
What is this book about?
It is told by the narrator, Humbert Humbert, from his jail cell as if he were addressing a jury on his case. Humbert is obsessed with “nymphets” – girls between the age of 9 and 14 – and in particular is in love with Lolita, his stepdaughter. The book follows the story of Humbert’s relationship with Lolita – one of perverse sexual gratification. Told from his point of view, he attempts to explain and justify kidnapping his stepdaughter and traveling around the country for over a year while daily forcing her to have sex with him. He vascillates between blaming the entire relationship on Lolita, or on his own failed teenage relationship with the late Annabel Leigh.
Why is this book a classic?
While you do not sympathize with Humbert, you do begin to understand him. Obviously, this book caused a huge scandal when it was released. The material is questionable even today. But Nabokov writes the story in a manner which is not graphic. You know what is happening, but it is not physically descriptive. Because of how well Nabokov writes, you begin to understand why Humbert tells himself what he is doing is okay. The book is insightful and a challenge – there are times you may find yourself reviewing your own moral code’s foundation when challenged with the logic of Humbert.
Why should I read this book?
If you are a person who is easily affected by the unspoken pain of others – don’t read this book. Immersing yourself in the mind of a child molester, rapist, and murderer is not something everyone will enjoy. In fact, this book is not enjoyable. Humbert is a sick man. But this book does help you better understand how people can seem to have no conscience and commit horrible crimes. While I said this book is not graphic, that does not mean it is not disturbing.
However, the language in this book is beautiful. Nabokov is a master artist at sentence structure and description. His use of color, allusion, and metaphor is something every aspiring writer could learn from.
Has it won any awards?
No literary awards unless you count the banned book list; but it has been recognized around the world.
For more information on Nabokov or “Lolita” check