Sunday Salon: He Starts to Shake, He Starts to Cough


Yes, Sunday Salon readers, I am reading Nabokov’s Lolita, the notorious story of Humbert Humbert and his obsession with the nymphet Lolita. Of course, the novel’s subject created scandal in its time — the Fifties.

Such a story would probably make Springer and the nightly news today, but its power to shock might not shake us long.

What I’ve paid attention to, so far, in this rereading of the n0velis not its power to shock, but its narrative voice, the voice of a “lunatic genius,” as Francine Prose calls Humbert in Reading Like a Writer — a first person narrator who sometimes refers to himself in the third person, when he’s diabolically pleased with himself as he proceeds through his crimes.

The voice also guides us through a parody of dark European sophistication meeting American cheeriness and optimism. A fun read, so far. Delightfully sinister.

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Editor’s Note: This post has been written as part of Sunday Salon.

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