While I was rummaging through a heap of books in a secondhand bookshop in Maradana, I came across Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, a book that I was longing for reading for a long time. I had watched the movie Lolita, both the black and white version and the color one and that had increased my curiosity to read the novel.
Nabokov’s narrative style of writing cannot be compared with any other writer’s I have read. It is so interestingly detailed. One has to respect Nabokov for covering such a controversial theme in 1950s with his real name. One cannot have that courage even today. Narrating a sexual relationship between a middle aged man and his 12-year-old stepdaughter is unimaginable in any rate be it literary or otherwise. But Nabokov shows a great discipline in writing the story without including a single vulgar word.
Of the two movies made of the story, I kind of prefer the first movie, the black and white Lolita directed by Stanley Kubrick at a time censorship was too rigid. Sue Lyon does the justice to Lolita while Peter Sellers is remarkable as Clare Quilty. Shelly Winters plays Charlotte Haze in a dramatic way too. I am not that happy about James Mason who plays Humbert Humbert. He is too old for the character.
In Adrian Lyne’s color Lolita, Dominique Swain is excellent as Lolita and so is Jeromy Irons as Humbert Humbert. Both Frank Langella (Clare Quilty) and Melanie Griffith (Charlotte Haze) are equally hopeless.
I have seen a Sinhala translation of Lolita somewhere but never got a chance to read it. I’m curious as to how the translator has coped up with Nabokov’s narrative style in Sinhala.