Saturday, November 7, 2015

Lo-lee-ta


I thought I already have a copy bought eons ago, tucked somewhere deep in one of the high level shelves, waiting obscurely & patiently for my caresses one fine day. Alas. I was wrong.  Couldn't find it after a thorough search.

Eventually bought this Penguin copy last week at Kinokuniya Bookstore.  Known about the book, heard about the story fairly long long time ago from reviews, books on books, and may be even the internet.  Simply didn't get to read it.  May be I was not ready by then, who knows.

It was amazing that not a single obscene term can be found in the work, meaning no four letter words which are norm for 'erotic' novels.
The famous opening paragraph of Vladimir Nabokov's most controversial novel:
“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta. She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita..”
Found a real good explanation as below :

The middle-aged Humbert Humbert is so obsessed with 12-year-old Lolita. She is his sin and she is his soul (his everything). She lights his life, and arouses him.

But the passage is about more things -- it sets the tone for his character, and the style of the book. He is in love with the sound of his own voice. Speaking her name is a sensual experience for him -- the alliteration a literal trip of his tongue through his mouth. While for many people being in love evokes sensual feelings, here Humbert's sensual enjoyment is his own internal creation. As we will learn, Humbert's vision of Lolita is comically askew of the actual girl, who is crass and typical. This is what Humbert shares with Nabokov: not the love of too-young girls, but a love of the artifice of language, a sensual pleasure in language, and the joy of being able to create out of nothing. Note that is is not just the word "Lolita" which is described by Humbert -- it also applies to the fuller sentence: "the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth." An orgy of the letter t. Nabokov is gorgeously over the top here -- Humbert is over the top but not in control. The excessiveness of the language is one more clue to Humbert's character and self-delusion. So, in short, yes: it is about the fact that she arouses him and the pleasure he takes in saying her name.

Till the end of the story, I wonder if Humbert was the one who debauching Lolita, or the other way round in a wicked way.

1 comment:

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