Lolita’s First Lines

Chris's invitation to beginnings coincides with my obsession with this one. My husband introduced me to this first paragraph and I have to admit that when I first read it my eyes glazed over the surface like a marble on linoleum. As I have inched my way through the book and look back on those first paragraphs it seems to have set exactly the right sensuous tone and cadence for the ecstatic psychosis of this narrator's twisted tale. On the cover of my frayed 1989 Vintage paperback Vanity Fair blurts that it is the "only convincing love story of our century"; Time says something about it being "wildly funny." What I see is one of the most painfully sad stories of an incontinent man and a broken child finding themselves lost and attached to one another. It's my first reading of Nabokov's Lolita and I'm on page 215. Here's the opening:

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.
She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.

There she is, spun taut between childhood and the perversion he has bound her to.

-Mara Naselli

1 thought on “Lolita’s First Lines”

  1. Unbelieveably close to my feelings upon reading those same first lines…not to mention the rest of the book! IMO, it is, without a doubt, the greatest novel in the English language, at least in the 20th Century and possibly any other. I have gone through more copies of Lolita than I can count!

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