In this classic novel a middle-aged guy who calls himself Humbert Humbert is a pedophile. He falls in love with a young girl and is determined to get her, no matter the price. The general idea of the novel is so well-known I will not spend much time on it.
The modern Western society programmed to have a pedophile as bogeyman for grown-ups. We can listen on the news about mass shootings involving kids and completely forget about it five minutes later, but I saw otherwise normal rational adult humans that go into a complete panic mode running around like headless chickens upon simply hearing the dreaded P word.
I witnessed people I know accuse a guy of being a pedophile because he was sitting on a bench in a park alone. In another instance an accused guy committed even bigger offense: he dared to look at a young girl he was passing by instead of casting his gaze down. Fortunately both accusations were non-public and behind the backs of the people in question.
So the book breaks the taboo and instead of going into panic it gets inside of a mind of a pedophile. It is a very nasty and disturbing place. The author's writing skills almost
make the readers hope for some redemption for Humbert Humbert in the beginning. As the tale goes on the guy becomes more and more repulsive and any hopes for his redemption are shattered by himself and his actions. I would not even call what I felt morbid fascination. Any time I thought the main character could not fall any lower he proved me wrong. The fact that he is described as "scholar, aesthete and romantic" makes for even more disturbing read.
The writing is excellent despite the fact that English was not Nabokov's first language - and most probably not even the second. He wrote the novel in English originally and only later translated it into his native Russian.
As far as characters, Humbert Humbert is one of the disgusting ones in the literature. Dolores Haze is a real victim with a mother who does not care about her much and main character lusting after her; by the end of the book she was the only one I felt pity for.
As I said before it is a skillfully written, but very disturbing book. I thought about giving it 5 stars, but the subject matter is too repulsive for me, so I reduced the rating by 1.