Lolita is a remarkable novel written by Vladimir Nabokov and published in 1955. The book gained worldwide attention and recognition because of its innovative style and controversial topic, as it regards the story of a middle-aged man who makes an obsession and gets sexually involved with a 12-year old girl.
Lolita is now a classic and also one of the most controversial books of the 20th century. Because of it, the name “Lolita” is now used in pop culture to name a sexually precocious girl.
Humbert Humbert, the main male character of the book, is a literary scholar who, after an unsuccessful marriage, moves to a small town to write where rents a room in a Charlotte Haze`s house, a widow. As he is obsessed with young girls, Humbert becomes infatuated with the widow`s 12-year old daughter, Dolores, also known as Lolita.
Charlotte loves Humbert and, while Lolita is at summer camp, she asks Humbert to marry her. He accepts thinking that this is a way to stay near Lolita. Charlotte reads his diary and finds out about the obsession for her daughter. She decides to run away with Lolita and expose Humbert`s true personality, but she gets killed by a car before telling anyone.
Humbert takes Lolita from camp, tells her Charlotte is in the hospital and they go to a hotel. He uses sleeping pills so that he can molest her, but they do not work on Lolita. Instead, she is the one the starts the sex and Humbert discovers she was not a virgin. When Lolita find out her mother is dead, she has no choice but to stay with Humbert. They drive around North America for a year, then remain in a town where Lolita starts going to school, but Humbert is very strict and forbids her to participate in after-school activities or interact with boys. In order to let her be part of a school play, Humbert want more sexual favors in exchange, they argue and the girl says she want to leave. Lolita becomes ill, but runs away from the hospital. Humbert starts a frenetic search, but without finding her.
After a few years, Lolita, now 17, writes to Humbert saying she is married and pregnant, but need money. He goes to her, gives her the money and finds out about her life after leaving him. He proposes Lolita to return to him, but she refuses. Driven by revenge, Humbert kills the one who helped her escape from the hospital. Lolita dies while giving birth to her dead girl and Humbert dies while finishing the book he was working on, his memoirs.
Themes and style
The novel is written as a tragicomedy narrated by Humbert. The power and beauty of language makes this book a delightful prose and the reader is invited to be the jury of the story. The major themes of the novel are obsession, desire, love, morality and fate.