The fourth in a series of 13 book reviews from my pre-blogging years.

LOLITA by Vladimir Nabokov (1955)

Lolita continues to draw its share of critics because it deals with a sexual relationship between a middle-aged man and a 12-year-old ‘nymphet’ without taking then easy option of moralising or sensationalising the story.

The novel examines the desires of the lonely and slightly pathetic Humbert Humbert but pointedly refuses to present him as a pervert or a monster.

Nabokov’s neutral tone is what exasperates and antagonizes those looking for any excuse to label the novel as depraved and obscene.

The Russian born author also writes so brilliantly that the story is vivid, believable and disturbing. He doesn’t need to write lurid sex scenes to convey the true nature of the man’s fatal attraction to the young girl.

The flirtatious and precocious Lolita provides temptations that HH is not strong enough to resist. This doesn’t make her any less of a victim but explains how the aroused Humbert is driven to take advantage of her innocence.

In much the same way that crime writers seek to describe a killer’s mindset, Nabokov attempts of get inside the man’s head to understand the world he inhabits. The key difference is that there is a lurid fascination with homicide while pedophilia are understandably regarded with revulsion.

Like the movies of Hitchcock and David Lynch, Nabokov reveals disturbing truths about the human psyche to prove that commonplace evil and the tyranny of sexual abuse frequently lies hidden behind a facade of suburban order.