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Book Of A Lifetime: Lolita, By Vladimir Nabokov

The summer after A-levels. I had promised myself that once all the cramming was over, I would buy 'Lolita'. I felt both furtive and outrageously adult as I purchased it in The Totnes Bookshop. I nurtured hazy notions of a racy read to ease my brain after all the Chaucer, imagining this was 'The Valley of the Dolls' with class.

What I didn't realise, of course, was that I was about to fall in love with the work of the most playful, lyrically virtuoso prose writer of his century, if not of all time. I started reading, and the writing inevitably blew my mind, and has never stopped astonishing me over so many re-readings. It's like watching a tightrope walker perform 'Swan Lake' while singing 'Don Giovanni' while laughing at a private joke.

This is a novel so very famous; so reviled then lauded by generations of writers and critics; so filmed and misused as a concept, that ideas about it are bound to be warped. At its simplest, it's the tale of an academic, Humbert Humbert, who is attracted to what he terms "nymphets" – certain underaged girls. One summer, he chances upon the ultimate nymphet, Dolores Haze, whom he refers to as Lolita. After a strategic marriage to her mother, he spends the rest of the novel chasing the elusive girl, while attempting to thwart a rival.

But the plot is subsidiary to a novel that works on so many levels, that is so exuberant yet controlled, witty, allusive, and breathtakingly beautifully written. Published in 1955, it is many things: a love story; by its own admission a disturbing tale of child abuse; an elaborate game of language, rhythm and subtext, and much more. What never ceases to amaze me is the fact that English was not even this Russian writer's first language, yet his fluency and poetic agility outclass almost any native author you care to name.

What stay in the mind are throwaway descriptions: Humbert's "salad of racial genes" and his "princedom by the sea"; the list of the names in Lolita's class – "a poem, forsooth!", and the "luminous globules of gonadal glow" of the jukebox. Was there ever more economy than in his recounting of his own mother's death: "(picnic, lightning)"?

When my publishers described my new novel as "'Lolita' meets 'Wuthering Heights'", I was taken aback. Did my influences show that much? But in writing of a 17-year-old schoolgirl and her relationship with her older teacher, the themes of longing and obsession and the power difference created by age come into play. In thinking back to the age I was when I first read Nabokov, perhaps I had absorbed more of its themes than I had thought.

One of my most treasured possessions is a re-bound first edition of 'Lolita'. It's a novel that never goes away.

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EXCLUSIVE: Family of 7th Heaven star Stephen Collins fear he's on the brink of suicide over pedophile claims, as stunned former cast member laments 'he was the glue that held us together'

The family of Stephen Collins fear the 7th Heaven star is on the brink of suicide over shocking allegations he molested several underage girls.

The actor, who played a beloved pastor on the hit family friendly show, has been left distraught after his taped confessions made during a marriage therapy session were made public.

Now those closest to the 67-year-old are deeply concerned the star has hit rock bottom and fear he may harm himself.

'His family by no means condone what he's said to have done, but it doesn't stop them worrying about him,' a close family friend told MailOnline.

'They fear he could take his own life. That's how low he is right now. No one wants to leave him by himself.'

His estranged wife Faye Grant has now claimed that Collins even had incestuous thoughts about their only child when she was pregnant.

She says just before giving birth, he told her how glad he was they were having a girl, who they named Kate, instead of a boy who he may have abused.

'The comment you made just before I gave birth to our daughter when you said you hoped we didn't have a little boy, because "you just didn't know if you could keep his little penis out of your mouth" was indication enough that you were sick,' Grant wrote in an email obtained by TMZ.

'I should have followed my gut then, and then again 14 years ago, and kicked your ass to the curb,' she added.

But a source close to Collins told the gossip site that the allegations are 'absolutely untrue,' that he never received that email and Grant never brought these claims up during their contentious divorce proceedings.

According to court papers obtained by MailOnline, Grant is attempting to indemnify herself and the divorce settlement from settlement any civil action stemming from the pediphelia charges.

Ar stake is property worth $13million including over $5 million in real estate and Collins' $100,000 worth of vintage guitars.

On top of that, a Massachusetts woman who worked as a nanny in New York in the 1990s, in the same building as Collins, has come forward to reveal his strange daily visits in pajamas and the 'semi-pornographic novel' he was writing.

The woman named Ilene called into Boston radio station Mix 104.1 Wednesday morning.

The family source says cast and crew of 7th Heaven - the popular long-running family drama which ended in 2007 - are in 'shock' over the bombshell claims.

In an interview with MailOnline, a cast member, who asked not to be identified, said, 'I'm very confused right now. Knowing Stephen the way I do, I find it hard to put this together.

'He wasn't that guy. He wasn't someone with secrets and angst. He was always very present with us. Fun and teasing. All we did is laugh all day long at work and a lot of it was because of him. He's not that guy to me.

'He took care of me and all of us during those years. He really was a father figure. Taught us to read music a little bit and would make up songs for any occasion for us. He was our glue that held us together. Our rock.

'We all had dinner together a few months ago. If this is true, it's disturbing because there was no outside appearance of problems. He never did anything sneaky when I knew him and I saw him every day.

'It must be buried in him. I wish him the best of luck to make it through this. I hope he goes to rehab and comes out the same role model rock star that we know him as.'

Collins, who famously played Reverend Eric Camden, the virtuous father-of-seven, is currently being investigated for child molestation.

An NYPD official confirmed to MailOnline that they had received a complaint and the Special Victims Squad is investigating.

And the LAPD is also reviewing their own 2012 investigation into Collins, and will be collaborating with New York authorities.

Law enforcement in California received the therapy session recordings two years ago but closed their case after finding 'no verified victim'.

In the recorded therapy session, Collins seemingly admits that he exposed himself to several young girls between the ages of 10 and 13 in both Los Angeles and New York.

Following the tapes released by TMZ on Tuesday, Collins life and career have been falling apart as he resigned from his position on the Screen Actors Guild board and was fired from the film Ted 2. Reruns of 7th Heaven are not being broadcast and he will no longer appear on the hit TV show Scandal.

LAPD officers rushed to Tarzana, California, after getting a 911 call about a shot fired inside Collins' house last night. Collins' neighbor, former Playboy model and Baywatch star Donna D'Errico, tweeted just after 8pm PT that the actor shot himself

It turned out to be a false alarm sparked by a member of the media who heard a loud pop

The actor allegedly made a written confession to his now ex-wife Faye Grant in 2012, which sparked the therapy session.

Grant secretly recorded the session under the advisement of her lawyer, who told her it was legal in California to record conversations in order to gather evidence on a person who has committed a violent felony.

And in explosive court documents Grant reveals she was 'sickened' after her husband allegedly confessed to living a vile 'secret life' in which he abused several children.

She claims the actor used his celebrity status to prey on underage girls and 'engender the trust of the families of the children he molested' in a decade of abuse.

Ironically Collins starred in the 1996 Lifetime movie The Babysitter's Seduction in which he played a recently widowed dad who becomes obsessed with his childrens' teenage babysitter, played by Keri Russell.

Devastated Grant also revealed Collins was treated for a sex addiction and was seeing a 'sexual dysfunction' therapist, but he refused to seek proper help or hospitalization for his 'predilection towards children', she said.

"The family feels absolutely betrayed by him. He's not the man they all thought he was and that's incredibly hurtful and confusing,' said the family source.

"With everything that has come to light they fear there could be other victims. There's so much that he has already hidden from everyone he's worked and lived with, they don't know what could come out next. Some are even wondering if he admitted everything he's done on those tapes, or if there's more he's keeping secret.

"The family are mortified and embarrassed. They remain concerned however for Stephen because they now know he has deep seeded issues.”

Yesterday cast and crew of 7th Heaven were said to be reeling over the news.

The family source, who knows several cast members and often visited the 7th Heaven set, said: 'No one had any idea. They had a reunion just last month and everyone loved it.

'There were never any signs Stephen had these issues. No one ever suspected a thing.

'Everyone who has worked with him has said he's amazing and lovely and one of the nicest guys ever.

'It's like the neighbors of the serial killer with bodies buried in the basement who always say, 'He was always such a nice guy'.

'We are all blown away by the revelations.'

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Nothing, absolutely nothing, flatters a girl more than a man committing suicide because of her.

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Sadomasochist accused of strapping woman to 'torture board' and sending 240 volts through vagina CLEARED of sexual assault

Mirror

A self-confessed sadomasochist accused of strapping a woman to a 'torture board' and sending 240 volts through her vagina has been cleared of sexual assault.

Road worker Keiren Batten, 43, was "obsessed with sadomasochistic sexual practices", a jury was told.

Prosecutor Simon Wilshire told them he "used" a 27-year-old woman "to satisfy his physical, dangerous sexual desires re bondage, sadism and restraint."

Batten stood trial on one count of sexual assault which related to the incident involving his homemade electric torture board.

The complainant claimed he attached crocodile clips to her labia while she was strapped to the restraint board he had made from plywood and pet collars and belts.

In his defence, Batten, from Hitchin, Herts, told a jury in fact it was he who had submitted to painful sexual practices.

He denied having electrocuted the complainant via her vagina.

He also claimed his own genitals had been left scarred after the woman used a blowtorch on them and that she also carved her name into his thigh with a Stanley knife.

A jury cleared Batten of sexual assault and another count of assault relating to an accusation he had pushed the woman during an argument.

Jurors could not come to a verdict on a charge of assault relating to a head butt.

Prosecutors have a week to decide whether to retry Batten on the matter.

During the trial at Cambridge Crown Court, the jury of seven woman and five men were asked to join the judge and barristers to examine to homemade torture board.

Defence barrister Neil Fitzgibbon asked Batten to lie down on the board in court and strap himself to it using the head, body, arm and leg collars, belts and chain.

Judge Farrell came down from his bench to stand with barristers and jurors to examine Batten's demonstration on the floor of the court.

Jurors were also shown explicit photographs of Batten's genitals bearing the branding and burn marks.

The complainant told the court she went along with some of the kinky sex because Batten said she was "boring" in bed.

Twice she was electrocuted through her nipples.

But, she claimed Batten on another occasion connected the lead to her vagina although she had said he must not.

"He put the crocodile clips inside, attached to my labia, and shocked me," she said.

"He turned it on and I just caught my breath because you think you are going to die.

"I have never experienced anything so hideous in my life.

"I never went on the board again.

"After that 'I was rubbish in bed' and 'everybody else was better', 'I was just a prude'."

The witness said: "He calls it a torture and it is torture really.

"As I got a bit braver I said no and that's when he got bored and went elsewhere."

In cross-examination, she accepted she carved her name with a Stanley knife into his inner thigh, but denied she used a blowtorch or the shocker on him.

Batten had earlier pleaded guilty to criminally damaging a mobile phone and taking a hammer to a wall at the complainant's home and has been remanded in custody to be sentenced for those offences on 2 May.

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