Monday, 21 August 2017

Everything You Know About Lolita is Likely Wrong

As people may have noticed from my Goodreads account, I have been reading Lolita on and off for a few months. Because of the subject matter, I have often found myself needing to take a break from it. Mum saw me reading it recently, and asked. "What are you reading?"
"Lolita," I said.
"What's it about?" She said. I hate being asked this question about anything I am reading, but with a book like this especially.
"Um, it's about a man who wants to have sex with a pre-pubescent girl. Like, it's not presented in a good way, he's the villain, but he's also the protagonist."
"Oh. But she's really the villain?"
"Um. No? She's twelve, and a twelve year old girl is never at fault for a grown man wanting to have sex with her."
"Oh, but you hear girls described as Lolita's all the time." As if that makes it okay? Just because something is so normalised in culture that it's accepted, doesn't make it okay.

Also, the protagonist is horrible. Like, this isn't a man creepily watching a young girl from afar. This is a man starting a relationship with someone to get close to her daughter, and touching himself in secret while he's talking to her. I don't know how much worse it gets, yet.

I would also ask you to think of any cover you've ever seen of this book. Did it have a sexualised young girl on the cover? Nabokov explicitly stated that “There is one subject which I am emphatically opposed to: any kind of representation of a little girl.”

Young girls, weird disconnected body parts and sexualised fruit.
However, if you have avoided this book because of the reputation it has, think again. It's not a book that glorifies that sort of relationship. The common misconceptions about it fly in the face of what Nabokov was actually intending to portray.

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