Friday, 11 February 2011

How did they make me read...?

Maybe it's because I'm a 21-year-old man, but I feel uneasy simply possessing a copy of Lolita. More than once I've looked up at my bookshelf with the spine of the book facing out, declaring its presence to any who see it. On these occasions it has seemed to be shouting its existence to the world, standing out from surrounding volumes. To Kill A Mockingbird? Sedately existing in the background. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep seems to fade away into the unnoticed ether. And as for Stranger In A Strange Land, well, it seems to just not exist.

I don't think I particularly want to admit that I'm reading Lolita now. My embarrassment is noticeable with regards to the fact I'm taking the short story collection I'm reading downstairs to read, but Lolita has stayed in my room, hidden away like an illegal document.

I shouldn't feel this way. Lolita is a verified modern classic. Its use of the English language is reason alone to read it (after 139 pages, it's clear that Nabokov was glorying in his adopted tongue). And I wanted to read it as a challenging read. But it's just that I'm a young man reading about a grown man having sex with a 12-year-old girl. If people knew, then surely awkward questions would be asked?

The reason I'm saying I'm reading it is that I shouldn't be embarrassed about broadening my literary horizons. I'm not going to exactly go waving it round in people's faces saying 'hey, hey, hey, I've read this', but in future discussions it's an interesting point to raise. That I read Lolita.

Not that this is stopping me wanting to have it finished by the time I return to uni. The stigma of reading it up there might just kill me.

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