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Does reading Lolita make you feel "bad".... 
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I share you suspicion. It felt like almost a role reversal at times. As though Lolita was the predator and he was the vulnerable prey.


I do not agree with this when you take the novel as a whole. Yes, we are supposed to have some sympathy for Humbert, but only in that he is deluding himself and that he is a sorry mess of a man.
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In 1959, novelist Robertson Davies excused the narrator entirely, writing that the theme of Lolita is "not the corruption of an innocent child by a cunning adult, but the exploitation of a weak adult by a corrupt child". from Wikipedia


I am very surprised that someone could write this after reading the novel, but perhaps Robertson Davies has had little education on adolescence and child psychology.

I agree with Theomanic's comments.



Thu Feb 12, 2009 11:03 pm
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In my earlier post, I was responding to the question at the top of this thread "does reading lolita make you feel bad?" In part, my answer to this is yes because I grew tired of seeing the world through Humbert's eyes. He was trying to persuade me that he was not to blame.

This is why I quoted Robertson Davies. His comment is provocative and, although I'm quite sure he's not an expert on adolescent psychology, he does know a thing or two about novels, which is what he is commenting on .. he is not passing judgement on rightness or wrongness but rather giving an opinion on the meaning of the novel. I don't agree with him personally but I think it is interesting that he came to such a conclusion.



Fri Feb 13, 2009 6:03 pm
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he does know a thing or two about novels, which is what he is commenting on ..


Good point and I see what you are saying.

The feeling I got from Humbert is that he wanted so badly to be able to show that he wasn't to blame, or that what he did was somehow forgivable, but inside he knew really that he was to blame, totally. He was telling the story as truthfully as he could, from the way it felt to him. I think Nobokov does a good job giving us just enough information through Lolita to see her as, not innocent, not corrupt, just a adolescent trying to adapt and survive in a confusing world.



Fri Feb 13, 2009 7:22 pm
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Mulling over Lolita, I see that Nabokov set a fine trap for me as a reader. Humbert's dual role as a perverted, monstrous, controlling pedophile on one hand and as narrator on the other hand, made me feel trapped and controlled, thus helping me identify with Lolita's entrapment. The sickening monotony of seeing the world through his eyes, thus being controlled by him, made me put the book down many times as the only way that I could resist him, that I could fight back. Lolita, unfortunately, did not have that choice.



Sun Feb 15, 2009 2:00 pm
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Mulling over Lolita, I see that Nabokov set a fine trap for me as a reader. Humbert's dual role as a perverted, monstrous, controlling pedophile on one hand and as narrator on the other hand, made me feel trapped and controlled, thus helping me identify with Lolita's entrapment. The sickening monotony of seeing the world through his eyes, thus being controlled by him, made me put the book down many times as the only way that I could resist him, that I could fight back. Lolita, unfortunately, did not have that choice.


I can identify with this evaluation Giselle. I read the book bit by bit, because I got so sick of his obsessions, it was difficult not to let them have an effect on me.


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Sun Feb 15, 2009 3:53 pm
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One thought that keeps coming to my mind is this: we find this shocking because the girl was 12 and the man was her step-father and he managed to trap her. In our society 12 is no longer an acceptable age for a marriage, but what of other societies?
In many places in the world, take a Lolita situation where the girl's father has sold her to a man twice her age, and suddenly the whole thing gets society's approval, nothing could be more moral. The only difference between immorality (indignation, punishment) and morality (you close your eyes, whatever happens to the girl) is marriage, that is the father's decision.
So as I read Lolita yes, the imaginary situation is scandalous, but what about the millions of all-too-real marriages/enslavements where there is not even the luxury of indignation and recourse to the law?
In our own society it would have been thought to be perfectly moral just a few centuries ago. Once marriage (which can be a farce) has taken place, nobody thinks "child", "pervert", anymore.


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Sun Feb 15, 2009 4:09 pm
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In our society 12 is no longer an acceptable age for a marriage, but what of other societies?

When viewed in a relativistic way, this argument makes some sense but we have to consider whether or not some absolute standard exists, where entrapment and abuse of a 12 year old girl by an adult is always wrong, regardless of when or where it happens. We do recognize standards of this nature through international conventions but it seems that often countries and cultures do what they want anyway. This fact does not make it right or justify it necessarily.



Sun Feb 15, 2009 10:54 pm
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I read CNN in the mornings and at lunch. One of the biggest news stories coming out of the Middle East is that of child brides. There was a 42 year old man who married an 8 year old girl. This girl was forced to marry due to her father's debt to the said groom. The reporter later received a phone call from another woman whose daughters who are 12 & 14 were just married off due to her husband's debt. She was overcome with grief, anger, and fear. She has applied to several organizations that are actively trying to get the marriages reversed. In fact, there was a 8 year old girl who was granted a divorce from her 30-some husband in Paris.

So even in other cultures and regions, child brides are not acceptable. They are children and they should have the ability to be children not forced into an adult world.


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Mon Feb 16, 2009 9:38 am
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I feel very differently then the rest of you. At first I was taken back by Lolita's situtation. I felt very bad for her. But I started thinking, she is a 12 year old, having sex with a middle aged man. But What if she was having sex with a 15 year old, or 14 year old. She had willingly had sex before. Even though she will see this as a mistake when she is older, it is still hers to make, and is that mistake any different then if a 15 year old has sex with an 18 year old or an 18 year old with any older person? Every person matures at a different pace, no means no, but Lolita didnt say no. There is no doubt it was a mistake for her to have sex with this man, I dont believe it was real love, but the trama done could be just as damaging if she was older. I view Lolita as a beautiful story, at first, I did feel bad. But now I dont, it changed my views. I use to believe an 18 year old and 15 year old was disgusting, but this book opened my mind to the possibility that just because our culture says its wrong, doesnt mean it is.



Mon Jul 06, 2009 9:45 pm
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Post Lolita
gothicmuffin wrote:

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Every person matures at a different pace, no means no, but Lolita didnt say no.


You are so right, you do have a different opinion from the previous posters, and possibly the vast majority of those who have read Lolita as well.

I am speachless, the only thing that comes to my mind, is, you have got to be kidding.



Tue Jul 07, 2009 1:25 pm
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No, I know it seems so odd. I havent met a person who has agreed with me yet. But I cant help but see the book in a different light.



Tue Jul 07, 2009 3:13 pm
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Post Lolita
Hello gothicmuffin:

I can relate, I oftentimes see things differently than others. I once posted that I felt bad that HH was prevented by Lolita's mother from molesting her. :eek: Sick, huh? Goes to show how talented Nabokov was.

I just grabbed my copy, what has always interested me is the quote from "Vanity Fair" on the cover. It says, " The only convincing love story of our century". This is one bold statement. It's convincing in the respect that Humbert Humbert is so mezmerizing, I know I had to stop myself from believing him.



Tue Jul 07, 2009 4:16 pm
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Perhaps I am letting myself fall victim to his convincing ways. Or maybe what I see now is my actual opinion on the matter, there is no doubt in my mind that HH wasnt a man I wanted my young daughter around, but to me making it illegal for a person to choose who they have sex with is wrong as long as it consentual.



Tue Jul 07, 2009 10:20 pm
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Post Lolita
Books are good for that, makes you discover how you feel on subjects outside of it's pages.

But, I do have to disagee, I don't think Lolita had much of a choice in the matter.



Wed Jul 08, 2009 5:41 am
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May I ask why? Id like to see another point of view, and maybe expand or change what I think.



Wed Jul 08, 2009 10:21 pm
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