Kate's Queen City Notes

Blundering through Cincinnati, laughing all the way


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100 Books While 40: Lolita

Book: Lolita
Author: Vladimir Nabokov
Published: 1955

All the window dressing in the form of gorgeous prose cannot make up for the hideous plot of this book. I feel myself in a state of revulsion and appreciation at every page. It’s exhausting.

Humbert Humbert falls in love with a child, Lolita. After several self-serving actions he becomes the child’s guardian and begins an incestuous relationship with her. Eventually, she leaves him for another older man. They reconnect at some point in the future after she’s nearly an adult and married to someone close to her age. They die around the same time.

Who she is apart from the object of Humbert’s desire is never revealed. Unsavory as this was, I realized that female characters in many movies hew to exactly this role. The role is a vehicle for one of the protagonists object of desire. The revulsion I experience with the book is one that I’m just inured to in movies and TV with a minor addition of a few years.

Seeing Ghostbusters this weekend was more moving than I was expecting. Seeing four women eating, working, and kicking ass with no romantic interests felt uncomfortable. It was uncomfortable because it’s novel.

The source of my disgust isn’t the gorgeous prose and unsavory subject matter. It’s not the age of Lolita and how lecherous Humbert is. It’s that nearly all female characters are essentially Lolitas with some years, and that I am seeing that more profoundly than before.