I picked up a copy of Lolita about a year ago and started reading it. Because of my immersion in the video-game and anime subcultures, I had stumbled across the more modern use of the word Lolita and the odd trends in regards to that, which was why I set out to read the book and understand how this all started.
To the uninformed, Vladimir Nabokov’s novel “Lolita” is about an older gentleman named Humbert wooing, and ultimately doing the horizontal tango with a minor named Dolores. I was taken on a journey of outrageous monologues, lucid lust, and of course, the heavy implications of the violation of a minor.
So why did I find this book boring? Why was it that I was reading a book that was so controversial I’d always get odd looks from grown ups if the topic was ever brought up, and yet had to push myself to even finish it? Sit back and enjoy the ride, because this will take quite a bit of explaining…and to all those Nabokov fans about ready to knife me, I promise you’ll like how this all ends.
I love controversy. When I was younger, the fastest way to get me to check something out was to tell me that it had gotten banned, or was thrown into bonfires. Controversy is fun. Seeing someone getting get up in arms over a popular card game or video-game puts the biggest smile on my face. The bigger the outcry, the better. A Danish cartoon pisses off a whole religion? JACKPOT!
So I started reading Lolita. I knew it wouldn’t have too much in the way of actual sex, after all I’d read the Wikipedia page before hand. What I was hoping to witness were all the great and amazing things that would make it so infamous.
At this point I need to clarify that finding something as boring is not the same thing as something being intrinsically boring. As I had said earlier, this book was written by a dude who knew how to write. Its a masterpiece. However, because I started reading from a misconception about its content I had only succeeded in boring myself.
Yes I can see why this book was so controversial back fifty years ago, but what I had been searching for while I read was things that I would view as shocking and horrifying. Granted I am not saying the subject of pedophilia isn’t wrong. I am saying its not shocking. I am part of the generation with the infamous ‘Two Girls, One Cup” video. There are places on the internet where you can find real crime scene photos and images of mangled car crash corpses. I had been looking for things that would have horrified my generation in a book written over fifty years ago. In short, I was reading the right book for the wrong reasons.
My story of reading this controversial book is mirrored in an episode of South Park. In which the four main characters are told that the book ‘The Catcher In The Rye’ has just been taken off the school library’s banned book list. They devour the book and then lament how they had been expecting so much more from a book that their teacher had made sound so infamous.
Don’t read this book for the controversy. The real reason you should read Lolita is because it is a good book.
Now class, repeat after me, “Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta…”