Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov
Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta. She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms, she was always Lolita.
– Vladimir Nabakov
This novel will make your skin crawl. The inspiration between Sting and The Police’s creepy song Don’t Stand So Close To Me, the novel has you occupy the mind of Humbert Humbert, a sophisticated old world professor, who becomes infatuated with a twelve year old girl in the house he starts renting in America. As the novel takes the form of a first-person account, you get to descend in several levels of depravity as Humbert acts upon his obsessive love for Lolita. This is a brilliant example of an unreliable narrator in a novel. He presents himself as a brute but an innocent and lovestruck one, and downplays his criminal actions and indiscretions through indirection with his language. Because Humbert is well read, well spoken, and an overall likeable fellow, you begin to feel empathy for him even though his crimes are reprehensible.
The only part of this book where I found my attention waning was Nabakov’s endless descriptions of the natural environments and towns across America that Humbert and Lolita visit. I thought this part of the book went on far too long, though it was well written.