The First Lolicon (AKA the poetic paedo)

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokovlolita

My book

I would apologise for the title of my post, which treats the very serious topic of paedophilia light-heartedly, but this is the sort of mood that you have to be in to be able to read Lolita. The moment you start feeling ill or guilty, it’s no longer an interesting read. I avoided these cumbersome emotions quite simply because I am a teenage girl, and therefore able to understand Lolita, more than I could understand our pervy narrator. Besides, the book’s love affair with language is far more interesting than any love affair with young girls. Trust me, at 309 pages, you have plenty of time for moral reflection, but a book like this is tedious if you are not enjoying yourself.

Other than that short warning, I don’t want to put prospective readers off. Therefore, I recommend Penguin Modern Classics. This version of the notorious novel includes a note from the author himself, which should assuage any conscience that this is puerile sexual gratification (I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Lolita is purity itself compared to certain scenes in Fifty Shades of Grey, though I have admittedly not read the latter). It is instead a book to read, to enjoy and to get you thinking. First published 1959, it is not difficult to read, other than the downright academic terminology that Nabokov slips into every so often, and I believe that it is a rare person who understands every reference or allusion. For all that, try it. I can guarantee that you will most likely enjoy it more than you think.

The story

I find it very uncomfortable to categorize this book as a ‘romance’, or ‘American’. It is technically about a romantic relationship, or several, if you include the beginning of the novel (and technically about rape, though neither term fits well). The author isn’t but, the book is technically American, since the whole world of the book is set there, and you are given quite the tour of the continent during a long road trip sequence and, therefore, Americanisms abound.

OK, so we have established that the book is about a paedophile, but beyond that, not many know what actually happens in Lolita. The blurb has this to say:

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Il était une fois dans la France rurale…

Le Grand Meaulnes par Alain-Fournier9782253082644-T

Mon livre

Ce qu’on voit ici, c’est un livre publié en premier lieu en 1913. Il reflète certainement l’époque, mais j’en dirais plus plus loin. Le livre fait 212 pages.

Il serait difficile de trouver une personne qui n’a jamais au moins entendu parler du titre de ce roman, mais vous aurez peut-être des difficultés à trouver quelqu’un qui l’a lu par lui-même, si ce n’est forcé par l’école. Cependant, ce livre mérite d’avoir sa critique sur le blog.

L’histoire

Etonnement, l’intrigue n’est pas aussi simple qu’elle paraît à première vue. L’histoire racontée par François commence lorsque que nos héros sont adolescents et nous les quittons seulement quand ils sont adultes. On peut être sûr qu’avec tout ce temps passé, beaucoup de choses arrivent. La quatrième de couverture nous dit :

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Give a little love, and it all comes back to you…

Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley

My book

You have to read this. You don’t necessarily have to buy the Collins Classics edition – even its summary of Mary Shelley’s life is stilted – but you really, sometime before you die, have to read Frankenstein. I’d call it an average length for a novel, at 202 pages, and the gap between its language and how books are written today isn’t that large, especially considering its publication in 1818. You really must read this though.

Like most people out there, I already knew the basics of Frankenstein before I even picked it up (such as the fact that Frankenstein is the name of the creator, not the ‘monster’). I even knew that, opposing what the movies tell us, the creature isn’t green, but yellow. However, don’t assume that you know all that goes on within just because you know of Frankenstein‘s legacy. The plot still holds the power to surprise you, I can surely guarantee.

Though the word ‘horror’, considering that this book is meant to be the world’s greatest gothic horror, might be pushing it, you don’t get much more classic than this. This here is a novel ingrained the national consciousness. However, I feel the need to point out that Frankenstein never stands in his laboratory as lightning crashes down shouting, “It’s alive! It’s alive!”

The story

Do I need to give a synopsis? The blurb gives us the ultimate in stereotyping:

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Once upon a time in rural France…

The Lost Estate (Le Grand Meaulnes) by Alain-Fournier

My book

This review may get a bit confusing, as I mix up the two versions of the book that I’ve read. The truth is that the version I’m going to be writing about isn’t the version that I read first.  I can proudly brag that I first read it in the original French and then read the English… um, just to check that I was… reading it right? If I’m ambitious enough, or if I have the time and patience, I may rewrite this review in French. It depends on how geeky I want to be.

Anyway, what we see here is a book first published (in French) in 1913, and it certainly reflects the era, but I’ll write more on that below. In English, it’s 223 pages long.

Since I am going to assume that not everyone out there is bilingual, I realise that you may not have heard of Le Grand Meaulnes (pronounced ‘mulns’, or ‘moans’ if that’s easier), as this novel is better known. In fact, in France, you’d be hard-pressed to find a person who hadn’t at least heard the title of this tale, but you might also have some difficulty finding someone who had bothered to read it, if not forced to at school. I therefore defend its appearance on a blog critiquing classic books – it’s not classic all over the world, but it’s certainly in France’s canon.

The story

The plot, surprisingly, is not as basic as it first appears. We join the story, told by François, as our heroes are teenagers and we only leave them when they are adults. You can be sure that, with so much time elapsing, we have an eventful few years to read about. The blurb tells us:

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The Original Spy Chase

The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan

My book

Why did I choose to read this book? It isn’t the type of book that I usually select out of my bookshelf. Not being a trains spotter, the cover on my Wordsworth Classics edition doesn’t exactly entice me.

Well, recently I was in London. My friends and I went to see a play at Piccadilly Circus. That play just happened to be The 39 Steps. I recommend watching that, by the way, as it’s hilariously funny and only has four and a half actors (you’ll understand upon seeing it). Anyway, to cut a long story short, someone was going around the theatre selling copies of this little book. By little, I mean it’s only 122 pages long.

I have to be realistically shallow. I bought this book because I like books, because it was cheaper than the programme and because the guy selling it was really cute.

The story

Firstly, let’s not judge a book by its cover. This book has very little to do with trains, although there is a scene that takes place in a train. Let’s not judge it by the play either. The play is extremely funny and tongue-in-cheek, but doesn’t bother attempting to keep firmly to the plot laid out by the book.

If you officially want what the book’s about, here’s the actual blurb: Continue reading