Did I like Lolita?

I finished Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov on Saturday in the car on my way home from my nana’s birthday lunch. I was with my sister at the time, who was the one that had convinced me to pick the book up after years of recommendations. I just looked at her and said, “I really don’t know what I thought of that book.”

I’d been told (not by my sister) that throughout the book I would feel empathy for the main character — who was actually just a disgusting peodophile — but I don’t really know what the person who told me that was thinking as I literally hated Humbert Humbert from beginning to end. I cringed every time he made a decision based around being near Dolores (Lolita), the 12-year-old daughter of his landlady, and I hated the way he described her throughout the book.

What I really didn’t like about the book, which I can only assume may be part of the writer’s intention, is how the entire book was written from the perspective of Humbert Humbert, so your perception of Dolores is warped to what he wants you to believe. You really never get to understand the way the child thinks, or what she truly has been through. As the reader, can you trust everything that Humbert Humbert tells you, or is he leaving out various bits of details that he thinks will sway you into thinking he’s a monster (at a few stages throughout the book, I think he even alludes to this fact, or at least that’s how I interpreted these moments). I don’t like the way the child in this book has her voice completely written off. You only get to hear what she’s thinking or what she’s saying from the perspective of the middle-aged man.

There are not many books that when I finish them I close the cover and say, “Thank god that’s over,” but Lolita was definitely one of those books. As classic as the novel is considered to be, I really took not a lot of enjoyment about reading what is essentially a story of child abuse and sexual abuse, and I have no idea how this book was turned into multiple films, an opera, a ballet, and, of all things, a musical … I guess you just have to read it for yourself and make your own mind up … I still can’t seem to make up my own …