I Think I Miss Writing Comparative Essays

It takes me about three months to read a book, and two nights ago, I had the distinct pleasure of finishing a new friend: my “Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov.

You, loyal reader, may know it from that Police song.

Anyway, it’s been one of my the most frightening, stomach-turning, languid, lovely and melodic reads I’ve ever had. And as I rolled through the last pages of the book, this passage rolled up to me, and it’s just about the prettiest darn thing I think anyone could ever dream up.

“Gently I rolled back to town, in that old faithful car of mine which was serenely, almost cheerfully working for me. My Lolita! There was still a three-year-old bobby pin of hers in the depths of the glove compartment. There was still that stream of pale moths siphoned out of the night by my headlights. Dark barns still propped themselves up here and there by the roadside. People were still going to the movies. While searching for night lodgings, I passed a drive-in. In a selenian glow, truly mystical in its contrast with the moonless and massive night, on a gigantic screen slanting away among dark drowsy fields, a thin phantom raised a gun, both he and his arm reduced to tremulous dish-water by the oblique angle of that receding world,–and the next moment a row of trees shut off the gesticulation.”

-“Lolita” Ch. 34

And that doesn’t really ruin anything for ya, if you ever want to read the book. And of course knowing what happens before always helps to pack a more powerful punch. Reading a passage like out of context rarely does anything for anybody.

But I wanted to share it anyway, cause now I just can’t get the book out of my head. Nabokov constructs this fabulously believable world of a man and a monster in the same shell, full of destruction and love. And you find out somewhere that it is a love story, the classic unrequited structure painted and played on until it’s barely recognizable and mostly disgusting. But it’s still a love story.

I watched “Vicky Christina Barcelona” the other day, and one of the lines was something like, “The only kind of love is unfulfilled love.” It’s something Christina thinks and the film ends up validating. And it highlights one of the most important threads about “Lolita” as well. The beautiful thing about Humbert in “Lolita” is that even when he has Lo, he still doesn’t have what he wants. By her virtue that can never be fulfilled. He’ll always love her.

In the last couple days, I’ve been stuck on this cover of the Dire Straits’ “Romeo and Juliet”. Maybe because it’s such a fitting soundtrack for everything else here. But still,

“And I dreamed your dream for you, and now your dream is real. How can you look at me like I was just another one of your deals? … But Juliet (or is it Lolita?) when we made love you used to cry. You said I love you like the stars above, I love you til I die, and there’s a place for us, you know the movie song. When you gonna realize that is was just that the time was wrong? Juliet…”


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