Call Me Ishmael

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“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta. She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita. Did she have a precursor? She did, indeed she did. In point of fact, there might have been no Lolita at all had I not loved, one summer, an initial girl-child. In a princedom by the sea. Oh when? About as many years before Lolita was born as my age was that summer. You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, exhibit number one is what the seraphs, the misinformed, simple, noble-winged seraphs, envied. Look at this tangle of thorns.”

“Lolita”, Vladimir Nabokov

Let’s just quietly sit back in awe of that for a minute. The intensity of the character’s feelings (Humbert Humbert) draws you in, and his fascination simultaneously attracts and repels you. You get a sense of it here, but it’s driven home more in the book – while Humbert has many delusions, he does not suffer from the delusion that he is normal or moral. He at times shows amazing self-awareness, and at other times, well, he’s out to lunch. He’s a horrible human being, but a well-spoken, and charismatic one.

It’s been far too long since I’ve read this beauty.

(Yes, the prompt requested the first line, and I threw a giant wall of text at you. Rules have never been my forte.)

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