Tuesday, 29 May 2012

A girl about whom we know (almost) nothing

The sun goes on shining. The sea rushes to shore. The birds go on singing. The stars glow above.
And I know, in a few days things will be back to normal, things will be fine. Life goes on. But right now, even if it's strange and irrational, even if to some it sounds grotesque and incomprehensible, I feel tremendously sad and devastated after reading 1 book, I want to cry, to burst into tears, for a character, as though she exists, as though all is real, as though I'm witnessing a life being broken and shattered. 
I remember the 1st impression. A while ago, possibly last year or the year before, I wanted to find "Lolita" after reading Nabokov's lecture on "The metamorphosis" by Kafka, the librarian shook her head politely and I (temporarily) stopped thinking about it, though "Lolita" remained among the must-reads. Then recently, purely by chance, I came across the 1st lines of the 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 3 steps down the palate to tap, at 3, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta. 
She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing 4 feet 10 in 1 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. 
Did she have a precursor? She did, indeed she did. In point of fact, there might have been no Lolita at all had I not loved, 1 summer, a certain initial girl-child. In a princedom by the sea..." 
This opening made me realise, I had to read the whole book, I had to find it, and get it, at any cost; yet more importantly, it had a tremendous effect on me, an effect I now cannot fully grasp and thus cannot explain, it was so beautiful, so strangely and hauntingly beautiful that not only was I captivated but I also, for whatever reasons, felt horribly devastated- which had never happened before. 
Lolita. Lolita. Lolita. 
Having finished the novel (this morning) I now say her name in a different tone, a different mood, from the way I did some days ago. "Lolita" is great from the beginning to the end, with sophisticated language, vivid descriptions, fascinating and convincing characterisations, and, most importantly, the creation of the notion of nymphets, but the last chapters hit me, struck me hard in the head, blew me away, and they elevated the whole book to a much higher level, making it as masterpiece. 

Writing a review or an analysis is possible. But let's forget it. For once, let's not go into details. Let's not (pre)judge it like philistines, who see obscenity as synonymous with banality and dismiss this wonderful novel as pornography (before finishing reading it, or, in some cases, even before reading it). Let's not read it like lambs, the whole time worrying about the moral of the book or the author's intention. Let's not get dragged into the discussion on whether it's a book of paedophilia, or nympholepsy.
 For once, as I'm unable to verbalise my emotions, just like Lolita herself, let me remain silent, let me quietly cry for her, not Lolita the nymphet (the idealised image on HH's mind based on Annabel, partly) but Dolores Haze the individual, the girl-child, who 1st appears before us at the age of 12, let me quietly cry for the bruised Lo and her broken life, let me (try to) feel how she feels, the girl whose appearance is remarkably appealing yet whose personality is subtle and unknown to us, the girl who is never truly loved, never fully understood. 

Lolita. Lolita. 

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