Fashion Book: Lolita
I first picked up Lolita one summer in college, or shortly before. I don’t remember. I don’t remember because I couldn’t get past Humbert Humbert’s notion of “nymphettes.” It was too creepy, too close to home for a teenaged girl. Thankfully, I got over my fear and attempted the book again a few summers ago. It’s now one of my favorite books.
Lolita is Nabokov at his finest–sharp, darkly comic, and strangely poignant. Yes, it’s a book about kidnapping and infatuation and abuse, but if you take the book at face value, you’d miss out on a reading experience that’s laugh-out-loud funny and weird and completely engrossing. Humbert is the ultimate unreliable narrator, and he comes alive in his delusional speeches and in his obsessive rants. His love for the 14-year-old Dolores Haze consumes him, destroys him, but one could argue it’s not Lolita herself causing the torment.
Lolita’s character has become a cultural icon, a symbol of young vixenhood–a damsel in heart-shaped sunglasses sucking on a lollipop, oozing a disturbing brand of sexuality. But she’s more complicated than that–a bored and petulant teenager, all but in the dark about the tumult she’s involved in. In my mind, a modern Lolita would be a riot of color and textures and prints:
Have you read Lolita? What did you think?