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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Weekly Top Five

David Foster Wallace Edition!

2. Lolita
By: Vladimir Nabokov
Published in 1955

The more I read about postmodernism the more Nabokov’s name keeps popping up and none of his works appears more important than the sort-of-skeevy, oft-banned “Lolita”. The book that popularized the oxymoronic “teenage Lolita” centers on Herbert Humbert, a literary scholar in a small New England town who is obsessed with teenage girls ostensibly because he didn’t consummate some childhood affair and is now haunted by the failure. Enter Lolita, stage right, the 12-year-old daughter of the widow Herbert rents from, who Herbert insists is trying to seduce him. What follows is one of the most perverse tales of seduction and attraction ever written; so perverse in fact that it took nearly three years for Nabokov to find an American publisher. Once published, however, the book became an instant sensation, not only because of the controversial subject matter but also because of Nabokov’s talent as an ironist and master of wordplay. It is to Nabokov’s great credit that he was able to make a weak, disassociating pedophile somehow empathetic, and his book “Lolita” is to this day still consider one of the 20th century’s greatest achievements.