“Mid-twentieth century ideas concerning child-parent relationships have been considerably tainted by the scholastic rigamorale and standardized symbols of the psychoanalytic racket, but I hope I am addressing myself to unbiased readers.”
– Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita
This is another late entry for my 25 in 2010 blog posts. I read Lolita about one month ago. As I was finishing my last book, Kangaroo, by DH Lawrence, my co-worker and I decided to read this one together, which was nice. This is the first time in my 25 in 2010 experience when I have read a book with someone. I was really happy to have a reading-buddy (RB). I like doing this reading challenge with my brother, but it has saddened me that we aren’t reading the same books at the same time. Part of me wanted this challenge to be like a book club. We would read a book at the same time, then talk/blog about it and exchange thoughts. Sadly, because of schedules, distance, and objectives, we picked different titles and agreed to read at our own pace.
I was really excited to have a RB for this one. As soon as we agreed to do it I took the SkyTrain to Metrotown and bought a copy from the Chapters (Initially I tried the two used bookstores by work, but neither had a copy). The next day, at work, we agreed to start reading that weekend.
I read about 40 pages over Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, granted, which is not a lot to have read. When RB came in on Monday she asked how much I read. I told her. She had read about 20 pages. We discussed how we felt about the opening, what we thought of the premise of the book (basically, a middle-aged man takes Lolita, his pseudo-daughter-in-law, in a car trip around the States for a year. All the while many nefarious and unsavoury things happen between them. The concepts of incest and pedophilia are definitely challenged). I was fine with the storyline, despite its content. However, the book cover did bother me.
My copy of Lolita is the 50th anniversary version that you see above. I felt very uncomfortable reading it on the bus. The cover seems so insinuatingly pornographic, but not pornographic at the same time. I found the lips so inappropriate. “People must be wondering what I am reading”, I thought.
I told RB this and she came back to my office that afternoon with a book cover she had made out of green cardboard paper. She even added a picture of the header from this blog and pasted it on the spine. “now when people look at what you’re reading, they will see The Shadow of Chez and wonder what it is.
I still have the green cover on the book. RB was very kind to make it for me. And the cool part about it is that when it sits on my bookshelf, The Shadow of Chez is among my favourite authors – conceited, I know.
I have to confess though, RB did finish the book before me. I’m not a fast reader in the first place, but RB is pretty fast. At one point she said, “I’m going to stop reading so that you can catch up and we can finish the book together”. I thought it very sweet of her to wait for me. That weekend I put my head in to the book and did my best to get through it. I finished it that week.
When I was done we discussed what we thought about it. I was amazed at RB’s insight and analysis of the main character, Humbert Humbert, She noticed things that I completely missed. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to her thoughts on H.H.- he is a very complicated character, a great writer and narrator who is most likely a sociopath with motives that are moved by mental illness and nymphetic lust.
I was really happy to read this volume with a friend. I’m glad she was kind enough to share the experience with me. Now, I’ve moved on to my next book, and so has she. The last time we talked she told me she was reading Kidnapped, by R.L. Stevenson. It’s one of my favourite books. I hope she’s enjoying it.
Next book: The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith