Oh. My. God. Definitely one of the greatest books I’ve read in a very long time, and by the end I literally could not tear myself away from the pages. I’m glad I went in knowing absolutely nothing about the book, as the delight and suspense of reading it was absolutely exhilarating. Something that I felt in the story that I really connected to was the love and difficulties that Humbert had with raising Lolita as a child. Although there was absolutely some Elektra-level stuff going on there, a lot of the pain that he went through is absolutely conveyed in the novel. I’m not sure if that was a proper or even intended message of the novel, but it’s something that I loved.
Lolita is fabulously written as well–I understand now why some people talk about how it’s one of the greatest books written in the English language. I’ll concede that I probably didn’t know a huge number of the words that he used (my Kindle dictionary is probably full of them by now, with most being awkward romantic or sexual-themed words), but the way the sentences were structured and flowed together was an absolute delight. I think a lot of this wore off towards the latter end of the novel, but the first quarter is absolutely amazing.
I’m not quite sure I understand the main character either, especially in terms of what he may symbolize. I think that his nickname of ‘Lolita’ is a portmanteau of Dolores and Annabel, which hints towards an incorrect development whilst growing up, leading to his perverse tendencies. Even still, he tries rather hard to preserve the innocence of others, but his final act of killing kind of offsets whatever moral positives he attempted to show. Why did he kill the guy at the end? Did he really think that whatever CQ did was worse that what he did to Lolita? Perhaps it’s supposed to be an inherent contradiction in his character.
More than anything else, the novel made me really emotional–very sad. I don’t know why I related to the adventures of the two misfits on any level, but something I loved was how the novel showed the passage of time (I thought this about Dune too). There’s something emotional and striking about seeing characters grow up and change over the course of years into something that they aren’t even recognizable with. And the band of characters that they’ve met over the years seems to create a world that feels real, somewhere that captures the unending sense of time plunging forward, much like me reading through a book. I felt sad when Annabel and Charlotte died, and when HH left Rita. He definitely did leave a wave of destruction in his wake, among those he interacted with, for the sole purpose of trying to be with his love.
In the end, I think the love that he has definitely morphs from the perverse to a fatherly sense. That’s what I feel is the strongest take away from it: the notion that every father needs to move away from his little girl at some point, though they’ll always be connected with that sense of love. Maybe Herbert just didn’t understand what that type of love that was.