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chatgarou

Books etc.

pretty much all kind of books, stories, whatever
Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov, Craig Raine The first time I read Lolita, I was still a student. Each faculty has its own library with its own specified collection. My faculty's library, Architecture, had pretty good collection although a small one so we didn't go to Central Library much. Anyway, the Central Library was not really inviting us to come. It's a giant sprawling building fondly called the Toilet, inhabited mainly by dust and darkness. I suppose due to Dewey Decimal System, the books were not allowed to huddle together and since the building had still long way to go to reach its maximum occupancy, the commmon view inside was of book clusters amid empty shelves. As I said, my fellow Architects-to-be went there as infrequently as possible, though I think other students went there often enough for general technics books. Fortunately, I knew something I bet most student didn't know, that there was a shining gem inside our toilette (I hope it still shines). See, up a side stair there was a room that housed the British Council book collection. Inside was a heaven for poor broke students with penchant for english fiction. There were of course Dickens which I would've devoured if I hadn't done it before at LIA's library, there were Martin Amis, there were surprisingly small collection of Agatha Christie, and there were lots of obscure books written by people that I now still can't recognize. The gold nugget at the time though, was a complete collection of Everyman's Library Classic. I can't remember how far I've read through it. I can still remember Italo Calvino, most of Jane Austen, Wilkie Collins, the Second Sex, D.H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, and Lolita.It's funny how reading this book again reminds me not about the story itself, but that corner of the building. Shelves filled to the brim, books I know in relation to its location there instead of the title and author name (I'm still looking without hope for a wonderful short story shelved near Agatha Christie), books I've loved then, books that I might've loved now. I remember the feverish reading, as if reading was a race around the world with read books as ticked off destinations. I remember the wonderfully heavy hard cover and skin thin pages..Reading Lolita now feels like meeting someone I know but have forgotten all about. Instead of meeting Lolita I meet my old self. --------------------------------------------------------------I don't know what to say.... Would it make me a bad person to have simpathy for Humbert Humbert the monster? (after all, I was also the only one in my reading group who had simpathy for Howard Campbell in Mother Night) He was having guilty conscience pretty much the whole time, he was fighting a continuous battle against Lolita, and in the end what he meant for Lolita was less than Quilty "He broke my heart. You merely broke my life".For he did break her life, and it made him miserable. "Unless it can be proven to me -- to me as I am now, today, with my heart and by beard, and my putrefaction -- that in the infinite run it does not matter a jot that a North American girl-child named Dolores Haze had been deprived of her childhood by a maniac, unless this can be proven (and if it can, then life is a joke), i see nothing for the treatment of my misery but the melancholy and very local pallative of articulate art."There was also a scene that I found amusing but in the hindsight was really a truth. Breadsley's principal, a school where the girls are taught "not to spell very well, but to smell very well", was calling Humbert expressing her concern that Lolita was not growing as her friends were sexually, that she was repressing her instinct. Humbert was squirming with fright and I sniggered, "Little did she know." But she was right. At first I thought, Lolita knew more about men than all of her friends put together. But she didn't actually. She didn't know how it's like touching someone tenderly, how to play not-so-innocently with smelly boys, in a way she was repressed although she was more advance experience-wise. The fact that Lolita ran away not with a young boy (a chance from which Humbert guard her verociously indeed) but with another lewd old stick might be seen as a proof Lo's original flaw of character and nymphet like behaviour. But for me it only happened because of what Humbert has done to her. I believe even at that time Lo was still a child inside. After all, a crush on elder man is common enough for young girls. She only went that far because of her forced experience with Humbert.In the end this review doesn't look like a defense for Humbert. I hope it showed some of Nabokov's brilliant writing. I will definitely read more of his books.