Personal feelings and criticism
The subject matter of Lolita is uncomfortable, but the writing is fantastic. Can I write about the writing without taking a moral angle? Of course I may, but it feels odd to do so. It feels as if I should caveat everything with "yes but it's all horrid really." In short, I'm insufficiently detached. Which is odd, because I've never felt this way about extreme violence in a novel, and I've read plenty of that. Maybe the answer is two-fold:
- I'm writing about it now
- I have a daughter
I want my daughter to grow up to be confident in her sexuality, and to feel secure with the people she chooses to be her partners. There's a lot that I can do as a dad to help with that, but it could all be undone by one leacherous horror like Humbert Humbert. I hate him for the reality he reflects, and the possibility of harm his type could bring to the ones I love.
Perhaps my belief in the reality of his type is itself criticism of the novel: the writing is just that good. But that fear is mostly the standard parent terror: images and scenes rise unbidden, and will induce such horror in me that I moan out-loud. I might imagine her falling into a fast-flowing river ("no you can't play there"), or being attached by a dog ("keep that vicious yorkie away!"), or burnt by water ("no darling, we're not cooking any more"), or just dying because a piano fell from a window and landed on her. All these things are possible and I fear them. The probabilty is irrelevant because the impact is so huge, and that makes the risk huge. There is no room for risk in a parent. So I read Lolita and find my reader's brain rejoycing at the writing, and my parent's brain telling me to just read something else.