I have an intensified disgust for Lolita style clothing, which, contrary to amazingly uninformed, oblivious, or down-right dense western fans, is a symptom of a HUGE problem, i.e. the sexualization of children in Japan. It's aptly named. To some extent, the doll style fashion interested me in the past, but when I stepped back to look at the whole picture, well, I wish I could burn the two doll-like outfits I made (I sold one and made another for a friend). Anyway, when it comes to the western impression of Lolita fashion, there's no way I can avoid offending people online, and frankly I don't give a rip about offending those people, because as I said, they're either oblivious (in which case, please open your eyes!!) or completely thick and I have no remorse for shattering their rose-tinted glasses when it comes to Japan's modern culture. I have mentioned before the problem and legacy of orientalism, and I firmly believe anybody who even has a remote interest in expressing opinions and thoughts about Japan in any way should be required to read that chapter. (The link is to a temporary location, should be active until June, 2012. I may update it afterward.)
Anyway, I digress, though that rant, truncated because I really don't care to spend more energy on the subject at present, is related to my topic. Lolita, by Vladmir Nabokov... I don't think I care to go into detail about the story's background, though from a brief search online it appears as though it's completely fiction. Granted it's, very sadly, far from being an uncommon reality for people, even in the 1950s when the story is actually set (late 40s to early 50s), I spent the last 274 pages thinking it was actually an autobiography, so I'm moderately relieved to know that it wasn't.... at least as far as I've seen. The details of publication and the author's biography are easy enough to find, if you're really interested. I'm tired of the book, so I don't care to look around any more. Sorry.
So, my reaction to it... I hated it. Don't get me wrong, it was well written. The narrator was what he should have been, and his tone evoked strong emotions. In the very beginning, I did feel a little sorry for him, if you can ignore the fact that he was an abusive #$@!+ to begin with. He realized he had a problem. He was frustrated by it, sought help getting over it, was an addict tempted by a drug, but the moment he contemplated actually taking the drug I hated him. And yes, I'm using euphemisms here. The drug happened to be a 12 year-old girl. My official stance on child molesters and rapists in general, remove the hand that sins... another euphemism. Anyway, he went from emotional to eerily calm and calculating. Then as the story went on he got cold and seemed, to me, hateful, then near the end completely nuts.
It was odd reading, because I felt dirty at times, when I wasn't blazing mad, and other times, he would describe a grown woman with such a tone that, as a grown woman, it made me feel ugly. I don't think I want to elaborate on that one, but I did find it strange. I put it down several times just to get up and do something completely different to get my mind off it. It was definitely a relief once Dolly escaped. I'd known she had to at some point, just by how he was narrating, but it kept getting worse and worse. Once the narrator cracked it was hard to read in its own way. Some of it made no sense, some of it was just inane babble that I got tired of reading, and all of his professions of love just made me want to hurt him, severely.
I don't know what the purpose of the book was. It appears to not have been autobiographical. The author said it wasn't meant to have a moral. Evoke emotion? Make people think? Isn't that was stories do? It is what it is, and for that, I (almost grudgingly) have to say it was a good piece of literature. I still hate it. It's like 1984, in a way, except I might actually read 1984 again, and thinking about it doesn't make me want to injure someone, and I do use the themes in 1984 as conversation topics... Also, too much freaking French! Why do I not know French!?! ... Anywho, good literature, don't want to read again, glad I got it over with rather than glad I read it. It's another classic crossed off my list, and score 1/24 for 2012's reading goal.
I don't recommend this book unless you're crossing off a very long list of Books to Read Before I Die. Yes, that gets italics, because it's a freaking epic list. I think my next book is going to be mindless, perhaps mind numbing. I may read the third Southern Vampire Mysteries book... though the last one had some unfortunate themes in it as well, so maybe not... This is when I wish I could stomach something like Harry Potter... Actually I might just try to flip my attention somewhere else. Read books one and three of that series... Narnia! I have the Chronicles of Narnia. I will read one of those next.
Okay, it's after 1AM and I'm all grr and yarg and want to shower and get this book off me, so I'm going to shut up now.