Today’s letter is L, and so the book today is Lolita. Lolita is one of the exquisite books ever written. The masterful way that Nabokov manipulates the English language is just divine, and the subject matter is very pertinent in today’s society. However, this book makes me very angry when I read it. This book makes me the angriest that a book has ever made me. It makes me angry enough that I can’t read it for any length of time, I get way too worked up and have to leave it for a few minutes until I calm down enough to read it properly. The reason for my anger is the protagonist’s (Humbert Humbert’s) manipulation of Dolores, or Lolita, as he calls her. Although she is not portrayed as a likeable child (sometimes she is downright horrible) she is still a child, and should not be treated as anything but.
Lolita is a novel about a man’s obsession with a little girl called Lolita, and his abduction of her for one summer, where they take a road trip around America. During the course of this novel, he sexually abuses her. She is only 13 years old, and he is middle aged (I don’t think it actually gives a specific number, but correct me if I’m wrong.) Although she never says no to his advances, she cries herself to sleep at night, and makes some attempts to run away from him. He clearly manipulates her ignorance of the law by telling her that because her mother is dead, if she goes to the police about what has happened they won’t believe her, and that she’ll be left to the state to look after. These are both hypocritical statements, because if the police don’t believe her, then she will be left with Humbert, but if they do, then she will be given to the state. Both situations cannot be true. He leaves her no way out, until she finally gains the courage to get away herself, with the help of another man. At the end of the novel, she has married, is pregnant and in desperate need of money. She is burnt out at the age of 17, and it is said at the end of the novel she dies giving birth to a still born daughter. Her life was completely ruined by Humbert’s obsession, and subsequent possession of her.
Unfortunately, the issue of paedophilia is very pertinent to today’s society in light of the Jimmy Saville scandal, and millions more cases just like it all over the world. There is not much more to be said on this subject that has not already been said. It is horrible, and disgusting that people would abuse children in such a way, and such an abuse of power over someone who doesn’t know what exactly is happening to them, and why.
This is a book that had cultural significance when it was written, and still has it today. It completely changes the mind-set of the reader, who finds themself drawn into Humbert’s narrative, and almost unable to judge him (this also makes me angry). It doesn’t allow normal morals to be considered, so persuasive is the narrative. He highlights the sexualised society that we live in, and therefore it almost makes it Lolita’s fault that he is so infatuated with her (again, my anger knows no bounds).
Do you know any other books that are so culturally significant now, and when they were published? Did they make you really think about your society differently? Let me know in your comments.