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Books where protagonist is the most morally vile character


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1 hour ago, Zorral said:

Not quite. Because otherwise Nabokov would not have concluded the novel with the scenes we have, starting with the obvious of how damaged Dolores is, how unhappy, and with him on trial.

Why not? Regardless of the aesthetic project, the story had to have a somewhat credible ending. You can't have transgression without consequences.
And there's also the whole question about whether the ending happened at all, whether HH didn't completely invent the last few days of his narrative as he was writing in jail, tailoring it to -vaguely- appease his conscience -as best he could.
That's stuff far above my pay grade, because it raises too many questions, like "did HH actually kill Quilty?", "did Quilty even exist, or was he a symbolic 'alter ego' of HH? (in which case killing him would have meant giving in to decency, becoming Quilty/guilty)", and my favorite "was HH arrested for murder?". IIRC the foreword never mentions HH being a murderer, raising the question of whether, perhaps, what "really" happened was that Lolita did escape and find a policeman after all.

1 hour ago, Zorral said:

I have never been able ever to read many of the scenes in that novel without revulsion and disgust and anger, and sheer hatred for HH, Quilty and the others like them to him HH refers.

If we're being fully honest, I don't remember being entirely sensitive to the aesthetics either. The end of the first part was too horrible for me to keep reading straight away. And while the prose was amazing, I despaired at how much literary technique and tricks were shoved into those pages. It seemed to me that this book was ideal for literature teachers to torture students with, and that the author was really demonstrating his technical skills - perhaps for that very purpose. Of course, I hadn't chosen to read it in the first place, so that really tainted my feelings.

The emotions the words created did leave a lasting impression on me though. Reading that book is quite an experience. And as evidenced above with the question of the ending, there are lots of possible readings, each no doubt producing its own emotions.

Edited by Rippounet
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6 minutes ago, Rippounet said:

while the prose was amazing, I despaired at how much literary technique and tricks were shoved into those pages.

Which is why, on a syllabus for a course in which Nabokov is taught, a favorite suggestion for final papers is, "What commentary does Lolita provide for Nabokov's other works."  Another favorite suggestion is comparison and contrast between Lolita and the later Ada Or Ardor, which overtly comments upon so much other sorts of works in the literary canon, as well as Nabokov's own works.

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On 1/10/2022 at 9:10 PM, Rippounet said:

Why not? Regardless of the aesthetic project, the story had to have a somewhat credible ending. 

Please go to Gen Chat and look at the “best thing you’ve seen on the internet today” thread! Like, right now! And the Onion review of a Spider-Man movie, with Tom Holland, playing the Lolita of super heroes. 
 

Oh, that man-child’s sexuality!

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  • 2 weeks later...
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Narrative structure is also, first and foremost, that it is a first person POV of sn Unreliable Narrator. The facr that this narrator is a pedophile child abuer is impossible to avoid while discussing the book, just like it's impossible to miss while reading it.

 

While I do note that it's not an interpretation I share, the fact that the narrator is unreliable does in a sense cast doubt on everything in the book, including the idea that he is a pedophile. (and of course, as Nabokov points out, in a sense, he isn't, because he doesen't exist except as a character)

That kind of reading kinda calls into question the very funadmentals of fiction, though. 

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I haven't read Lolita in years admittedly but I do remember quite well the difference between Kubrick's 1962 adaptation and Lyne's 1997 adaptation since I had to see both as part of my final essay for an elective uni course on adapting literature to film.

If I remember correctly, I wrote that Kubrick focused on aesthetics in the form of wordplay and humor but at the expense of the material's dark subject matter whereas Lyne did the opposite, presenting a less stylized but more sobering experience. (Of course, it has to be factored in that Kubrick was working under very different circumstances in terms of regulation, what audiences were willing to stomach, etc.)

Edited by The Grey Wolf Strikes Back
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