Tuesday, 7 July 2009

"the play's profound message, namely, that mirage and reality merge in love"

Has anyone read Lolita and completely forgotten the fact that it was about paedophilia? I constantly finding myself internally "aww"ing at some of the things Humbert Humbert says or comments on, and then he mentions "pubescent glow" and spindly, boyish limbs and I remember that he is sexually objectifying a twelve year old child. The poetical language really fucks up the entire thing. Which he knows and keeps referring to, saying things like "you can always rely upon a murderer for exacting prose" or something similar. It is like he is trying to escape the facts, even though he is describing them in minute detail, by cloying them with florid prose. It makes for some odd sensations when you realise you are being forced into the point of view of, and actually sympathising with, a paedophile. The Mirror would have a field day.

I have been reading the Annotated Version, which in one way is very lovely as I can keep flipping back to translate the French exactly instead of relying on my own rough linguistic estimations, but it also means that a book which should have taken me a maximum of five hours to read has taken me weeks- snatching time to delve into it here and there. Because you have to delve. It is not one of those books you can simply skim read or flick through when there is something else going on around you. You need a decent forty minute bus journey, or an entire pot of tea, just to begin making headway. Like I found with Crash last month, I am experiencing increasing difficulty in reading very image-laden books. I think it is because I force myself to concentrate on the way they are writing- the modification, allusions and imagery used. Actually the way they form sentences and how each writers' style differs from another quite significantly on that basis if no other. Which is interesting but fucking laborious. Possibly I am subconsciously trying to see the ties between visual and written art in mental preparation for my Masters. I bloody well hope so. It is either that or I am just a pedantic sod with nothing better to do.

Oh, and listen to Menomena. Wildly different songs but all extremely enjoyable in their own way, even though they do occasionally seem to be in danger of slipping into something like parody of various genres.


  1. You are right - it's defintely a book you have to delve into.
    I also found it very fascinating how you tend to sympathise with Humbert all the way and somehow want him to get away with it. I was, for example, bizarrely relived when Lolita's mom was knocked over by that car.
    Have you seen any of the the film adaptations?
    Oh, and 'Hi' as well!

  2. I have seen the '62 Kubrick version, with Sellers, which boasted some exquisite casting on the part of James Mason but am as of yet to watch the Jeremy Irons version. But I think that again, is quite a good choice as he is slightly leery, but in a very understated, almost caring manner.

    Have you seen them? Which did you think was better?

  3. I thought James Mason was a really good choice for that role as well. I loved that scene where he paints her nails - it's so sensual in a a very subtle way. And Sellers, of course. No film with Sellers can be a waste of time in my humble opinion! What I didn't like, though, was that everything remotely sexual was completely left out. But I know, it was the beginning of the sixties and from what I rembember even the adaptation with Jeremy Irons (also a good choice I think) caused quite a scandal when it came out. But I liked it because it really tried to stay faithful to
    the novel. Whoa, just mention books and adaptations and I start rambling and rambling. Sorry :)

  4. No, I totally agree! I would be deemed a filthy harlot because I would have been stood there in the sixties stamping my little white-leather booted foot down demandinf more eroticism. It means that the film is something completely different, as does the removal of the more Humbert-sensitive artistic self-narration. There is nowhere enough room for sympathy, nor enough of a reason for you have to sympathise with him. He goes from that semi-sensual nail painter to a bit of a desperate idiot with no real strong narrative link. There is more Quilty than is good for the story as well, but I find it hard to criticise that due to my intense adoration of Peter Sellers. I would love to remake it. Or for Wes Ansderson to remake it. Might be a bit too of a moral quagmire for him to have a bash though, sadly. I think he could get the perfect sense of an obsession with aesthetics removed from ethics that the book delivers.

    I see your so called 'ramble' and raise you a 'blathering on' ;)