Author: Vladimir Nabokov
Genre: Romance; (Love) Drama
Pages: 156 pp
Download formats: ePub, mobi, PDF (Links further down)
You can now download Nabokov’s Lolita for free in PDF, ePUB, or for Kindle, but be prepared for a love story like no other. Is it any good? It became an instant bestseller upon release despite the initial strong backlash, which says a lot. It is simply so deeply controversial that it is impossible to leave an indifferent reader behind. Just have a look at the long line of negative critiques. Given how forcefully Nabokov’s ingenious machinations can pull on some of the most delicate strings of the human soul, they deserve to be excused.
Borderline ingenious, it tackles taboo topics like adult sexual obsession with adolescents and preteen sexuality. Get ready for insane diction, dark humor, and a spectacular roller coaster ride through the mazes of a villainous pedophilic mind. And don’t expect Nabokov to stop there. He will further trick you into sympathizing with a “special” type of monster that society so passionately detests and rejects. “Am I sympathizing with a monstrosity?”, you may be left wondering halfway in.
The novel may touch many sensitive topics, but above all, it remains a grim warning. A warning about the great lengths people are willing to go in attemps to escape the past while running towards the edge of an impossible future.
“Lolita” unfolds through the memoir of the middle-aged English professor Humbert Humbert, or H. H., who completed his story from a prison cell. His only demand was his writings to be disclosed after his and Lolita’s death – both occurring in an untimely manner.
Humbert’s story begins with his peaceful childhood upbringing at the French Riviera where his father ran a family hotel. It is where he fell in love for the first time with the 12-year-old daughter of family friends Annabel Leigh. The secretive attempts to explore their mutual attraction, however, get hopelessly thwarted. Eventually, Annabel’s family heads back home and a couple of months later she tragically dies of a terminal disease.
The unexplored childhood love of Humbert leaves him restlessly obsessed with what he likes calling“nymphets”. These are young girls between the age of 9 and 14 years who he believes possess some form of sexual precociousness.
He seeks refuge from his craving in marriage, but he is unable to develop a healthy emotional relationship with his wife and she ends up leaving him for another man.
Looking to start anew, he moves to America where he rents a room in the home of Charlotte Haze in suburban New England. The widowed Haze quickly falls for the charming and witty teacher, but Humbert loathes her deeply. At the same time, he is mesmerized by her daughter Dolores, or Lolita as he calls her, who painfully reminds him of his childhood love. His desire to stay close to her grows only stronger as he spends more time observing her movements and occasionally flirting with her while writing down everything in his journal.
Despite the horrifying thoughts of murdering Haze crossing his mind, he decides to marry her instead so he can stay close to Lolita. The illusion he creates, however, doesn’t last long. Eventually, she finds out about his dark secret from his journal entries and after a stormy confrontation, she runs out in terror and gets ran over by a car in front of her home.
Humbert picks her up from summer camp to tell her the dreadful news about her mother. On their way back home, they spend a night at a roadside motel. It is when they sleep together for the first time with H. H. arguing that it was she who seduced him in the first place and not the other way around.
In Humbert’s “caring” attempts to ease Lolita’s pain, he takes her on another road trip. Lolita remains hard to figure out throughout the entire time. She rarely speaks for herself with the voice of Humbert constantly silencing her every time she is supposed to speak. At the same time, his fruitless attempts to please her and make her happy make Humbert appear like the real victim at times.
After having spent some time on the road, they settle down in the Northeast where Humbert lets Lolita enroll in school. She, however, becomes increasingly interested in boys of her own age, making H. H. uncontrollably paranoiac and restrictive. Feeling that he is losing her, he takes her on another road trip but this time there’s somebody on their trail.
1. He was trilingual. Nabokov grew up in a wealthy family of influential lawyers and politicians. He spoke fluently Russian, French, and English.
2. He loved butterflies. In fact, he loved them so much that in 1940 he became curator of Harvard Museum’s butterfly collection.
3. Unknowingly, he recorded Luciano Pavarotti’s debut. His son – Dmitri, wanted to become an opera singer and his father recorded his first stage performance, which was the debut of the legendary tenor as well.
4. He wasn’t diplomatic at all. If there was something he didn’t like, he wouldn’t go easy about it. He openly criticized Freud for being “crude and medieval” and called Doctor Zhivago “clumsy and melodramatic”. He also said the only interest he had in Lolita’s screen adaptation was the money, not giving “a damn for what they call art.”
5. Dead but not done. Dead since 1977, there are still Nabokov works that haven’t been published. One of them is “The Original of Laura”. He explicitly requested to be destroyed by his son who simply couldn’t bring himself to doing it.
“Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece.”
“Words without experience are meaningless.”
“It was love at first sight, at last sight, at ever and ever sight.”
“And the rest is rust and stardust.”
Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita” is available for free in EPUB, MOBI and PDF thanks to Megashare. Links open in a new tab.