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Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov I love this book.

I think everyone knows the subject matter of Lolita. The main character being a pedophile was not a surprise to me. I was surprised with the language of this book. Nabokov's use of language and play on words throughout the story had me flipping back and forth trying to catch all of the games he plays.

Let's start with the forward. You must read it. The forward is an integral part of the story and itself a fabrication that helps 'explain' the book. John Ray, Jr., PhD, describes the book as a manuscript, a memoir, a true story, a novel, and a case history. All of these are very different forms of writing and when applied to this book brings about different ideas on the subject matter.

I'm not sure I would say that Lolita is a love story although there are some elements of a love story. I do think that Humbert loves Dolly. I also think that he is aware of and ashamed of the abuse she suffers. Of course, he doesn't stop abusing her and it could be argued that if he really loved her he would stop. I think that in his mind, however twisted, Humbert loved Dolly very much.

The most amazing part of Lolita and the thing that I loved most is the language. This is a book for those that love words. An example:

She was thinner and taller, and for a second it seemed to me her face was less pretty than the mental imprint I had cherished for more than a month: her cheeks looked hollowed and too much lentigo camouflaged her rosy rustic features; and that first impression (a very narrow human interval between two tiger heartbeats) carried the clear implication that all widower Humbert had to do, wanted to do, or would do, was to give this wanlooking though sun-colored little orphan aux yeux battus (and even those plumbaceous umbrae under her eyes bore freckles) a sound education, a healthy and happy girlhood, a clean home, nice girl-friends of her age among whom (if the fates deigned to repay me) I might find, perhaps, a pretty little Magdlein for Herr Doktor Humbert alone.

It's so beautifully written that you almost miss the part about abusing Dolly's friends. Almost. Of course, these long eloquent descriptions can leave many readers wishing Nabokov would just get to the point. There is also a lot of foreign language. Humbert is French and since the story is told from his point of view he frequently lapses into French. I spent a good amount of time with Google Translate just to make sure I understood everything. I think there was a little bit of German mixed in, also.

I would not recommend Lolita to anyone that cannot set aside their distaste of what Humbert is and what he does to Dolly to see the beauty of the language and the games Nabokov uses throughout this book. For all others: enjoy!