As the story of a middle-aged man's fatal obsession with certain pubescent girls who are, to his mind, special buds on the verge of bloom, THE ENCHANTER is the precursor to LOLITA.--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
The main character is a middle-aged, respectable, well-off man, living alone and lonely. He also has a distinct "liking" for teenage girls who are just hitting adolescence, but doesn't dare to try anything. One in particular catches his notice, a coltish girl on roller skates who talks to him at times and gains his affection and lust.
He proposes to the girl's widowed mother, who is terminally ill and pretty crabby; he has no interest in his "monstrous bride" but it's the only way he can get to the girl. The wife's condition gets worse over the following months, and she dies. And the man choreographs his own downfall as he plots to seduce his new stepdaughter...
The mind of a pedophile is a disgusting thing, and Nabokov makes no excuses for it. "The Enchanter" is a pretty straightforward story in comparison, without a lot of twists or surprises. It's far from a bad book, but it's not a terribly good one either. It's fairly ordinary, especially when compared to modern classic "Lolita."
The high point of "The Enchanter" is the rambling thoughts of the lead character as the book opens. Then it dips down and proceeds more or less steadily. Nabokov's lush language and complex symbolism aren't really very present here. His writing is blander and more straightforward, with a lack of polish.
The characters are given no names -- they're just the man, the girl, the wife.Read more ›
Here, the approach is blunter and in a way more shocking - unmitigated by the intellectual rigmaroles that veil the sexual content in "Lolita". The book's plot, with its desperate escape, is a simplified version of the fantastic voyage of Humbert and Dolores. And "The Enchanter" also lacks the mild, educated satire of Middle America which has been a suitable alibi for many readers of the later book.
In a way, "The Enchanter" is like a notebook sketch for "Lolita". It has its basic elements of a story, but none of its richness of colour.