‘Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul’. As shocking now as it was on publication, ‘Lolita’ is a novel in which every page will dazzle and disturb in equal measure as it delves into that most current of contemporary fears: paedophilia.
Against the backdrop of the smug suburbia of 1950s America, ageing teacher Humbert Humbert candidly tells the story of his love for a ‘nymphet’; his land lady’s daughter, the prepubescent Dolores. They say the Devil gets the best tunes, and perhaps this is why Humbert, black-hearted and silver-tongued, can be so unpleasant a character yet so compelling a storyteller. Never crude, Humbert is the most poetic of perverts whose dangerous eloquence gives the book its perverse beauty. While far from a defence of paedophilia, Nabokov creates a world whose moral shades are far subtler than the black-and-white of the newspaper headlines to which we are accustomed. Beware the complacent: every twist in the tale of this murky odyssey will leave you floundering for your moral compass. One of the books on which everyone should hold an opinion, Lolita is a story that will absorb you from the first page, and refuse to be forgotten at the last.