Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Lolita and Love

Vladimir Nabakov's Lolita is an example of the prose-stylist at an epic height. That this book was followed by Pale Fire and Ada amongst others is a testimony to his writing genius.
Lolita has been too profaned for me to profane it, too disdained for me to disdain it and so loved as well.
My main captivation with this novel is not the story itself. If a middle-aged man falls in love with a twelve year old girl, is it my concern to read that or not? My preoccupation is with the language, with the style of his prose. In other words, i am doing what Charles Kinbote of Pale Fire did not do. I am judging the style and not the content. Hence, I find myself a step ahead of Kinbote and do not also judge Humbert Humbert.
One can perhaps get offended by Lolita but then one can get offended by anything. In this case, the anatomy of a love affair, dissected through the endless tableau of the United States, lends more credibility to it. That the affair is torrid and was always going to be so is not beyond us, even though we lack next door relations with Humbert Humbert.
The imagery of his love is desperate because he is a desperate man but then love is mostly desperation. His Wanted Wanted poem is an ode to road love and this is an expression I just coined. Road loves produce intense thoughts.
I have always admired the Wanted Wanted poem for the relentlessness of its desperate music, unhappiness and perverse love. It also is a self-goading annihilatory experience.
Lolita is a great book because the love portrayed is no ordinary one. And the great music it generates has happily found resonances, at times muted though.

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