Does Nabokov’s ‘Lolita’ have any canonical value?

1325 Words6 Pages
Does Nabokov’s ‘Lolita’ have any canonical value? The literary canon is the group of texts considered to be of the most value. These are books which are generally taught in schools, colleges and universities. Authors that belong to the canon seem to follow certain characteristics; middle or upper class, white male authors who are dead. Writers such as Shakespeare, Milton and Chaucer are synonymous with the canon and also follow these characteristics. Vladimir Nabokov follows most of these characteristics for authors within the canon, but can his novel ‘Lolita’ be considered to have any canonical value? How can the story of paedophile, Humbert Humbert, who becomes obsessed with twelve-year old Dolores Haze, be considered part of the…show more content…
Love, to Humbert, is a “localized lust for every passing nymphet”. On the other hand, canonical value can be given to Lolita in the sense that perhaps Nabokov is trying to prove that ‘true love’ varies from person to person. Either way, the idea of love and analyzing what it truly is infiltrates his work as a major theme. In this way Nabokov is almost defending Humbert in Lolita, and Nabokov brings the readers along with him to understand Humbert’s type of love. Readers, although initially horrified, at least in some ways warm up to Humbert, recognizing that he has a different idea of love than “sane” people do. One aspect of ‘Lolita’ that may deem it unacceptable as being part of the literary canon or having any canonical value is its subject matter; a middle-aged man’s obsession with a twelve-year old girl. On the surface, this seems disgusting and creates a feeling of repulsion within the reader. But under the surface, there are connotations of deep, sincere love from both Humbert and Lolita. “…and I looked and looked at her and knew clearly as I know I am to die, that I loved her more than anything I had ever seen or imagined on earth, or hoped for anywhere else.” Nabokov’s poetic elegance turn Humbert’s mentions of love into sweeping statements of an emotion that seems to be deeper than love. In a way, even after Lolita has left him at the end of the novel, Humbert writes his memoirs as if to ensure that

    More about Does Nabokov’s ‘Lolita’ have any canonical value?

      Open Document