The Ottawa Citizen
Wednesday, February 3, 1999

Lolita too hot for some Reform MPs

by Glen McGregor, gmcgregor@thecitizen.southam.ca

The novel Lolita, which has been made into a film starring Dominique Swain as a 12-year-old who has an affair with her stepfather, has no place in the Parliamentary Library, some Reform MPs insist.
It is one of the most controversial books in the history of modern literature, but its child-sex theme has some Reform MPs saying it has no place in Canada's Library of Parliament.

Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita recounts an obsessive sexual love affair between the adult narrator and his stepdaughter, Lolita, who is 12 years old at the book's opening.

"Is that a norm in our society? A sexual relationship between an adult male and a 12-year-old? I don't think it is", said Reform MP Art Hanger, who said he has never read the book but doesn't think it belongs in the Library of Parliament.

"I think they should basically remove it.''

I think there has to be some level of standards", Mr. Hanger said. "I don't find it a work of literature."

Reform's culture critic, Inky Mark, a former high school English teacher, said he hadn't heard of Lolita, but said the book probably qualifies as a depiction of sex with someone under 18 years old, and is therefore a breach of the Criminal Code.

"I would suggest that if it's illegal, it should be gone. Otherwise we'd be hypocrites", he said. "We shouldn't be treating it any different because it's the Library of Parliament."

Mr. Mark says the current legislation makes no discrimination between literature and pornography. For consistency, he feels the library should take its copies of Lolita out of circulation.

Considered a classic by some and obscenity by others, Nabokov's novel been no less contentious in movie form. Lolita was made into a feature film by Stanley Kubrick in 1962, and remade in 1997 in a film starring Jeremy Irons. The North American release of the remake was held up for several months by distributors nervous about its content. The movie was released in video format last week.

Of the Reform MPs contacted, only Alberta MP Ken Epp expressed reservations about removing the book from the library.

"I personally don't think we need it, but I'm not interested in having a function of government censor us all", he said. "I'm a staunch defender of freedom of speech. I don't want to have government telling me what I can or cannot read."

Copyright © 1999 by The Ottawa Citizen. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.