Inside 'Lolita'

Posted on February 18 2017

 by Vladimir Nabokov
was inspired by the case of Sally Horner and Frank La Salle, an 11 year old and middle-aged pedophile who tricked the girl into thinking he would put her in prison for shoplifting if she hadn't listened to him. In short, a five cent notebook and a problematic man started it.

Given the existing themes in this book, it was also quite unprecedented that Lolita was written and published in the mid 50s. The book brought about discussions of sexual consent, whether the content should be labelled 'pornographic' and the uncomfortable humour amidst all these taboo topics.  As such, it comes as no surprise that these quotes will cause a first time reader to assess the book in a different, perhaps more disturbing light:

“She was only the dead-leaf echo of the nymphet from long ago - but I loved her, this Lolita, pale and polluted and big with another man's child. She could fade and wither - I didn't care. I would still go mad with tenderness at the mere sight of her face.”

“If I dwell at some length on the tremors and gropings of that distant night, it is because I insist upon proving that I am not, and never was, and never could have been, a brutal scoundrel. The gentle and dreamy regions through which I crept were the patrimonies of poets-not crime's prowling ground. Had I reached my goal, my ecstasy would have been all softness, a case of internal combustion of which she would hardly have felt the heat, even if she were wide awake. But I still hoped she might gradually be engulfed in a completeness of stupor that would allow me to taste more than a glimmer of her.” 

“I would fight of course. Oh, I would fight. Better destroy everything than surrender her.” 
“Had I done to Dolly, perhaps, what Frank Lasalle, a fifty-year old mechanic had done to eleven-year-old Sally Horner in 1948?” 

“You see, she had absolutely nowhere else to go.” 

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