‘Why is “Lolita” considered a literary classic?’

I wouldn’t consider Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita a classic or say there’s more value to it than in a Michael Bay film.

It’s an impressive technical achievement, and it’s formally beautiful; if that justifies its existence, I don’t see how that’s enough to justify its study.

I once read an essay arguing that if there were a story about someone obsessed with chopping off dicks, it wouldn’t matter how gorgeous the prose was: no one would assign it. Instead, this is about lusting after and raping a young girl, so we can call it literature. If hedged, ‘provocative literature’.

There’s a lot of literature that’s beautifully written. This one in particular is studied because it allows people to lust after a teenage girl under the pretense of art, from within the gaze a sexual predator they’re allowed to empathize with without feeling guilty of it themselves.

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Good writing is the stuff that inspires instant jealousy

The other day, I was reading a book and had to, every few pages, set down the book and mutter a curse.

“No one should be able to write this well this easy,” goes the abridged version.

The most horrible thing about being a writer, or trying to be, is that in order to have any chance at being a good one, you’ve got to read lots of good books and other really well-written stuff. And to do so is a continual process of being smashed in the nose with the realization you’ll never produce anything half as good or enduring as what you’re flitting your eyes across at the moment.

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