Sunday, September 18, 2005

I read it as a teenager, for the "dirty parts"; then in my 20s, when as a young writer it "blew my mind"; then in my 30s, when it seemed the most piteously tragic book I'd ever read (Nabokov also termed Lolita a tragedy, remarking in its defence that "The tragic and the obscene exclude one another").

And then I read it again in my 40s, when its comedy repeatedly cracked me up, and left me wondering how I'd never seen it before. Most recently, in my mid-50s, I read it for consolation when, newly displaced to Jamaica, I was in the process of "collect[ing] my scattered skeleton" (Carter); and that reading was a pure, uncomplicated delight. Re-reading it again in my 60s--and seeing what new and utter mutation it has once again achieved under the depredations of yet another passed decade--is one of the few treats I hope still to have in store.

-- Wayne Brown on Lolita at fifty, in today's J'ca Observer.

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