A short story by Vladimir Nabokov
. This is said to be a sketch for his popular masterpiece, Lolita
. I haven't read Lolita but what I've heard the theme is the very same.
A man, who is in his forties, is a desperate paedophile but he thinks himself that his taste is very sophisticated. It's difficult to say how he views himself in regard of young girls but certainly he thinks he's a way above all those sad wankers, old farts who try to allure children with candy. He thinks that it's for the mutual good if a young girl could grow up with him. And it's not just any child - his eye catches the sweetest ones.
He befriends a woman who is looking after a perfectly beautiful 12 yo. girl. The girl's mother is seriously sick and finally the man succeeds marrying the mom. There's a total lack of love in relationship and everything the man wishes is that his current wife passes away soon. The lucky bastard he is, this happens in no time and the man takes the girl to the trip. On the journey, while the girl falls in asleep he fondles her but before he manages to proceed with his lust the eyes of the girl open up in horror!
In my opinion, the story is worth of almost nothing. The written style is unsteady. Mostly there's a narrator in a story but there are also lenghty paragraphs when Nabokov carries the story through the eyes of the main character, the paedophile man. The latter way of telling the story is a way better than the former. It gives a great insight into the lust of a paedohile, how he views himself. There's no molesting monster but a civilized man who is able to unfold the real beauty of a child. And the end is a bit of disappointing since the story doesn't really end. Okay, you may say that Nabokov gave a reader the freedom to imagine how it was but I think it doesn't work out in this case. Now the screaming of the girl is simply not good enough end for the story. A group of curious bystanders in a hallway of the hotel hints an unlucky ending for the man, already familiar with the police (albeit by a mistake).
Reading The Enchanter dropped Lolita in the bottom in my list of books to be read.