Yeah, I think you've likely heard of Lolita. It's astonishing however how this novel seems to get characterized, including in official blurbs. The "freedom and sophistication" in the telling of "a love story almost shocking in its beauty and tenderness", and "most of all, it is a meditation on love". How different and much less appealing the novel would seem I guess if advertised as a story told from inside the head of a child rapist. That would be irresponsible commercial blurbing.

It's an excellent novel, brilliantly and cleverly written, but a love story it is not. The protagonist is written in a way that certainly causes Nabokov controversy, because the character is writing this story to the reader from his prison cell and wants the reader to, yes, view it as a doomed love story. But that's what the character is doing, not what Nabokov is doing.

Humbert tells us from the start of his journey with Lolita that he won her compliance by threatening her with what would become of her as an orphan child if she tries to escape him. He writes of withholding breakfast from her until she "performs her morning duties". He writes of "her sobs in the night - every night, every night - the moment I feigned sleep."

Humbert himself, despite his other self-delusions, seems pretty clear that the "love" in this situation is entirely one-sided, it's just that though he makes performative nods in his telling of the story to feeling guilt on occasion, he's entirely self-centered. He feels love, therefore this is a love story. The reader should know better. It's not a love story, it's a story from the point of view of a pedophile. Which makes for uncomfortable reading, in what is, objectively, or at least as objectively as a novel can be taken, a brilliantly written book.

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