‘Lo-lee-ta’. It is hard to pick a favourite book from the first year of the course, but when people ask me which book I enjoyed the most, Lolita always pops into my head first. Now I know that most will have heard of the book purely for its notoriety and controversial themes, but there is a lot more to this novel. Nabokov has an aesthetic quality hard to beat. Little descriptions that are both simple and stunning. In one line he can create an image that stays with you, ‘She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock.’ [In normal circumstances you will need to Harvard reference here]. Try not to be put off by the theme of the novel, although hard to stomach. Humbert Humbert is frequently shown as a monster or something strangely alien and grotesque. But the novel is not a sympathetic portrayal of a paedophile, rather a unique perspective on a taboo subject. A couple of tips: read the foreword and afterword, they are integral to the story. Make clear notes and references as you read. It is easy to get lost in the pages and difficult to find quotes later when preparing for an essay. This is a brilliantly written novel that deserves its place as a ‘classic’, if only for the writing style alone. Please feel free to ponder the question “What is a classic?” for several minutes or for the rest of year!
Lynne & T.E.A