Lolita-lyonsRoxana Robinson at Literary Hub:

Lolita stands as a monument to Nabokov’s resentment: it is not a novel of sexual consummation but of cultural contempt. Contempt is the true driving passion: the landscape, the characters, the narrator, the narrative are all drenched in it. Nabokov despises his characters and their bright vulgar world, with its populist architecture and cheap displays, its tawdry, ersatz culture. Lolita is a raging cry for the world Nabokov lost, which was one of refinement, perception and beauty. It’s a cry of rage at a world that represents his world’s counterpart: young, vulgar, unrefined and irredeemably seductive.

Lolita becomes the object of his perverted desire. Early in his life, in Europe, Humbert had an adolescent fling with a girl who died. Now that he has been exiled from Paradise, now that his first love is dead, America and Lolita are what Humbert must endure. Lolita herself is common, superficial and unintelligent, though Humbert ignores her mind and her sensibility. He despises the vulgar clothes and makeup, snacks and advertisements that entrance her, America’s cheap post-war offerings. He hates these philistine vulgarians for owning this huge green continent across which he drives his unwilling partner, full of meadows and mountains and sunsets, rich and open and empty, “end of the summer mountains, all hunched up, their heavy Egyptian limbs folded under folds of tawny moth-eaten plush… a last rufous mountain, with a rich rug of lucerne at its feet.” These people don’t deserve this place.

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