Category Archive '“Lolita” (1962)'

06 Jul 2024

J.K. Rowling in Trouble With Millennial Idiots Again

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Read The Free Press today and you’ll find that everything old is new again.

We’ve gone back to the prim “Banned in Boston” Puritan regime of the pre-1960s. No, actually, we’ve gone well beyond all that to a modern hellscape combining the sanctimony of the Puritan prig with the thuggish eliminationist inclinations of the totalitarian Stalinist.

As is often the case these days, the courageous J.K. Rowling has stood up Liberty and Reason and thereby provoked the mob.

Vladimir Nabokov’s most famous novel, featuring the memoirs of an unrepentant pedophile named Humbert Humbert, has often been a flashpoint for controversy—including at the time of its 1955 publication, when the only outfit that would touch it was a French press best known for publishing literal porn. But however foolish or prudish the mid-century imbroglio surrounding Lolita might have been, it pales in comparison to the one now raging on the internet, where a sizable crowd has been moralistically shrieking about the book for three straight days.

Like so many other digital-age absurdities, this one originates with a millennial who is mad at J.K. Rowling. Here’s what happened: in the year 2000, in an interview with BBC Radio 4, Rowling praised the novel, saying, “[A] plot that could have been the most worthless pornography becomes, in Nabokov’s hands, a great and tragic love story.” Rowling’s sentiments about Lolita are not unique; Stanley Kubrick and Dorothy Parker famously felt the same, and my own copy even has a blurb on it from Vanity Fair, calling it “the only convincing love story of our century.” But nearly 25 years later, an actress named Sooz Kempner unearthed the interview and was shocked, shocked!

“JK Rowling doesn’t understand Lolita,” she wrote on X. “It is not a great and tragic love story, it is terrifying book [sic] written from the POV of a peadophile [sic], a very obviously unreliable narrator, and at no point are you meant to say ‘this is so romantic.’ She’s 12, Joanne. What the FUCK, Joanne.” Her sentiments were echoed by countless others, including novelist Ryan Ruby, who sniped, “Lolita is a moral test. Kempner passes it. Rowling does not.”

On the one hand, this is very much a tempest in a terminally online teapot. On the other hand, the wild virality of Kempner’s post (which has 5.2 million views and over 9,000 reposts) does unfortunately tell us something about the cultural discourse in the year 2024: namely, that people, in their fervor for recreational hatred, are rendering themselves functionally illiterate.


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