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Kingsley Amis on Lolita: It’s not pornographic enough

9 March 2019

9:00 AM

9 March 2019

9:00 AM

From ‘She was a child and I was a child’ by Kingsley Amis, 6 November 1959: The only success of the book is the portrait of Lolita herself. I have rarely seen the external ambience of a character so marvellously realised, and yet there is seldom more than necessary for the undertone of sensuality… She is a ‘portrait’… devotedly watched and listened to but never conversed with, the object of desire but never of curiosity. What else did she do in Humbert’s presence but play tennis and eat sundaes and go to bed with him? What did they talk about? What did they actually get up to? Apart from a few sentences of elegant hot-book euphemism, we are not even told that. Do not misunderstand me if I say that one of the troubles with Lolita is that, so far from being too pornographic, it is not pornographic enough.


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