Everybody’s Got A Limit, Right?
By now, it’s obvious that I’m highly uncomfortable reading Lolita.
That said, the book is beautifully written–and as I mentioned yesterday, it’s disturbing how effortlessly Nabokov seems to get inside the head of a pedophile.
My discomfort with this novel also raises a point we’ve discussed before: When a book brings a lot of negative emotions out of you–anger, depression, disdain–doesn’t that simply mean the author has written an amazing novel? If I really dislike this protagonist, Humbert, doesn’t that simply mean the author did his job of writing a powerful character?
That said, I would presume that all of us have some type of breaking point. In other words, you don’t care how good the writing or literary significance is, you’re not going to read about that, a subject matter that is totally off limits.
For example, this is a scenario that I brought up in the comments a few days ago: What if Lolita was two-years-old? As disgusting is that is, would that make a difference in how you view this story?
Nothing is different about the novel. It’s still wonderfully written. It’s still a story told from the point of view of an unreliable narrator. The only difference is that Humbert is obsessed with a two year old. Where’s the line here?
That’s just an example, and maybe a bad one. But, surely, there’s a line, right? Am I just a close-minded prude?
In my opinion, this is a subjective issue. This is definitely a novel I would not have read had if it had not been on this list. And I get the feeling that Tropic of Cancer might be the only other book on the list that comes close to Lolita in the pervert category.
So where do you stand? Is there a topic that’s off limits to you?