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Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
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Lolita (original 1955; edition 1997)

by Vladimir Nabokov

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21,14932266 (4.14)1 / 828
Member:entredeux
Title:Lolita
Authors:Vladimir Nabokov
Info:Vintage (1997), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:None

Work details

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955)

1950s (41)
  1. 41
    Memories of my Melancholy Whores by Gabriel García Márquez (heidialice, browner56)
    heidialice: Possibly too obvious of a recommendation? Very different takes on this central theme....
    browner56: Two different views of obsession masquerading as love; both books are so well written that you almost forget the sordid nature of the theme they share.
  2. 30
    The Lover by Marguerite Duras (roby72)
  3. 20
    The Basic Eight by Daniel Handler (zembla)
    zembla: Handler is a confessed 'Nabokov freak,' as he said when I saw him at a reading two years ago. He absorbs the influence beautifully.
  4. 20
    The Captive by Marcel Proust (caflores)
  5. 10
    The Sea by John Banville (StevenTX)
    StevenTX: The Sea is also a story about a man's life twisted by his memories of a childhood romance by the sea. The outcome is quite different, but the language and themes of memory are similar.
  6. 10
    The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch (Queenofcups)
    Queenofcups: I heard many echoes of Lolita in reading The Black Prince. Anyone else find this to be the case?
  7. 21
    Taming the Beast by Emily Maguire (infiniteletters)
  8. 10
    The Pornographer of Vienna by Lewis Crofts (heidijane)
  9. 00
    The North China Lover by Marguerite Duras (edwinbcn)
    edwinbcn: Another story of a man with a passion for a young girl.
  10. 00
    A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce (kara.shamy)
  11. 00
    The Death of David Debrizzi by Paul Micou (KayCliff)
  12. 00
    The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (mcenroeucsb)
  13. 01
    The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (kara.shamy)
  14. 02
    Hamlet by William Shakespeare (kara.shamy)
  15. 02
    Dismantle the Sun by Jim Snowden (Anonymous user)
  16. 03
    Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (kara.shamy)
  17. 04
    Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (Sylak)
    Sylak: Both books contain a sexually precocious young girl as a central character but treated very differently.
  18. 06
    Belinda by Anne Rice (rcc)
    rcc: IF you're "shocked" by Nabokov's Lolita, you surely should read Belinda. It takes off where Lolita ends. What I mean to say is that Anne Rice showed herself to be much more adpet - and daring - at writing about this "taboo" concerning the sexual adventures of a very young girl. Also, Belinda is so much more her "own woman" than Lolita.… (more)
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English (302)  Dutch (8)  Spanish (4)  French (2)  Italian (2)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Portuguese (1)  Danish (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  German (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (324)
Showing 1-5 of 302 (next | show all)
With Lolita, as with many classics, I’m definitely glad I read this just for the experience of reading it. Nabokov has a very unique writing style and Lolita is certainly a unique book. It’s also a book I’m happy to be able to discuss from experience. It was well written and I’m not at all surprised at it’s continued popularity. That said, I don’t know that I enjoyed reading it. The main sensation I experienced while reading this book was a desire to go take a bath, it was just that disturbing. I think it’s worth giving it a try to see if you love Nabokov’s one-of-kind writing style, but it’s (obviously) not a book to pick up if you’re just looking for something fun.

This review first published at Doing Dewey. ( )
  DoingDewey | Jul 20, 2014 |
I must begin this review with the warning that I have been waiting to read this book for months. I kept looking for a cheap copy on Amazon or Half Price Books, but to no avail. I finally decided to shell out the full price.

And it was worth every penny.

Lolita's opening lines are, without a doubt, some of the greatest opening lines of any book I have read in quite some time. "Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta."

An opening like that, you (or at least I was) hooked.

A basic overview of the plot: a man is in love with his 12 year old stepdaughter...and takes it too far.

But what is most interesting to me about this book is how deranged Humbert Humbert, the narrator, is. Everything that he tells us comes from his point of view, so it is impossible for one to know what truly happened in any of the events of the book. Humbert was under the impression that Lolita seduced him...at only 12 years old, despite her repeated verbal accusations of rape. He was also quite full of himself, and how handsome he was.

I felt that the book tapered off at the end, and I lost my interest...the last 20-30 pages were difficult to get through.

Perhaps one of the most interesting things about the book is the author's afterword, which explicitly tells the reader to forget about finding meaning in the book, or any author's purpose--his only purpose was to keep the book from haunting him by being trapped inside his head. And that, to me, gives the book more meaning, ironically (purposefully). It brings me to think about the book in simple terms of "here is an excerpt from the life of a man who did terrible things...." That's it's purpose...

A completely worthy read. ( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
I must begin this review with the warning that I have been waiting to read this book for months. I kept looking for a cheap copy on Amazon or Half Price Books, but to no avail. I finally decided to shell out the full price.

And it was worth every penny.

Lolita's opening lines are, without a doubt, some of the greatest opening lines of any book I have read in quite some time. "Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta."

An opening like that, you (or at least I was) hooked.

A basic overview of the plot: a man is in love with his 12 year old stepdaughter...and takes it too far.

But what is most interesting to me about this book is how deranged Humbert Humbert, the narrator, is. Everything that he tells us comes from his point of view, so it is impossible for one to know what truly happened in any of the events of the book. Humbert was under the impression that Lolita seduced him...at only 12 years old, despite her repeated verbal accusations of rape. He was also quite full of himself, and how handsome he was.

I felt that the book tapered off at the end, and I lost my interest...the last 20-30 pages were difficult to get through.

Perhaps one of the most interesting things about the book is the author's afterword, which explicitly tells the reader to forget about finding meaning in the book, or any author's purpose--his only purpose was to keep the book from haunting him by being trapped inside his head. And that, to me, gives the book more meaning, ironically (purposefully). It brings me to think about the book in simple terms of "here is an excerpt from the life of a man who did terrible things...." That's it's purpose...

A completely worthy read. ( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
In the forward to Lolita; Dr John Ray jnr refers to the sorry sordid business of Humbert Humbert's "confessional" story and however much the reader may be seduced by Nabokov's literary skills this book is certainly that: sorry and sordid. It is a horrifying tale of a very intelligent psychopath: one Humbert Humbert, who in his own words; kidnaps, rapes and murders his way across America to feed his passion for sex with pubescent girls. Humbert Humbert shows many of the classic symptoms of a psychopath, he is superficially charming, totally selfish, has no thoughts for the feeling of others, no sense of responsibility, but above all he is manipulative and an inveterate liar and so demonstrably an unreliable witness. He tells us that in the past there have been periods of insanity and during the course of his current story he checks into a sanatorium, it is almost as if his confession is some sort of defence, perhaps based on a plea of criminal insanity.

Nabokov's forward has the good doctor John Ray jnr warning us that the novel; "Lolita" should make all of us; parents, social workers and educators have greater vigilance in bringing up the younger generation, which may lead us to read this novel as some sort of scare story about the dangers of paedophiles, but I think this would be a mistake. For example a strict interpretation of paedophilia; is sex with pre-pubescent girls, but Lolita was not pre-pubescent and already sexually experienced before being raped by Humbert Humbert. Legally of course paedophilia is defined as sex between a person under 16 with a person over 18, but we all know that the law is an ass, as this would place a good few of us into the category of paedophiles. I do not mean to imply that Lolita is anything other than a victim, but she is primarily the victim of a psychopath, as are many other characters that come into a more than passing contact with the monster: Humbert Humbert.

By telling Humbert Humbert's story in the first person Nabokov must convince the reader that he is party to the thoughts and actions of an extremely dangerous man, a man that is an intelligent sexual predator. This gives the author the opportunity to write some genuinely erotic prose, which is one of the reasons why this literary novel is so popular. He tells us in sensuous language of Humbert Humbert's first love affair with Annabel, which sparks his desire for other young girls and he leads the reader on, with Humbert Humberts protracted seduction of Lolita and while the reader may be seduced by the prose he should bear in mind that what Humbert Humbert is planning is date rape. Humbert Humbert cannot hide the fact that his gross sexual appetite is both painful and nauseous to Lolita and although he tries to convince us that she is a bit of a slut, it should be obvious to the reader that this is not the case.

Humbert Humbert's sophistication, his academic background and his "European" education allows Nabokov to engage in literary games and witticisms, which abound throughout. He also gets to paint a convincing portrait of his travels across America, using literary references, theatre, poetry and song. The main agenda for all this, is a demonstration of Humbert Humbert's superiority over most/all of the characters he meets; he sneers at them, he laughs at them, he satirises them and he uses them.

Much of the writing is of the highest quality and if the book is not finally convincing, then it could be on further reading. The Grand Guignol finale feels like it should not belong, but Nabokov has been leading us up to it for some time. Humbert Humbert's final journey with Lolita is a portrait of a man losing his mind, he becomes paranoid and slips in and out of insanity and so the final bloodbath should not be such a surprise. I find Nabokov's use of comedy; not always appropriate, it is as if he allows himself one joke too many. This story is a tragedy and there should be no confusion about that.

Humbert Humbert is a monster. He commits one murder that we know about, he clearly would have murdered Lolita's mother had she not fortuitously been the victim of a road traffic accident. He planned to drug and rape Lolita and then raped her anyway when the drug was not wholly successful. He took every advantage of a weakened girl when she had a fever, he continually lied, used his position of authority and used physical violence to keep the young girl his sex slave. By letting Humbert Humbert tell the story Nabokov allows him to garner sympathy from the reader. He continually professes his love for Lolita, he justifies his actions because of his inability to control his sexual urges and finally because of his creeping insanity, But these are the confessions of a highly intelligent and manipulative psychopath and we should not be laughing with him and we certainly should not believe him; if we do then we are in danger of being duped in real life. Perhaps this is Nabokov's greatest achievement and a 4.5 star read for me. ( )
5 vote baswood | Jul 4, 2014 |
I've always said that if a book can make you feel physically ill (sans gory imagery) than it's really something! Alluring and repulsive at the same time...just like eel pie!
  Inky500 | Jun 14, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 302 (next | show all)
Brilliantly written ... a disquietingly sombre exposure of a pervert's mind, and finally dreadfully moral in its almost melodramatic summing up pf the wages of this particular sin.
added by Sylak | editDaily Mail, Kenneth Allsop
 
Massive, unflagging, moral, exqusitely shaped, enormously vital, enormously funny - Lolita iscertain of a permanent place on the very highest shelf of the world's didactic literature.
added by Sylak | editThe Spectator, Bernard Levin
 
A scarifying indictment of the kind of perversion with which it deals.
added by Sylak | editSunday Dispatch, Lord Boothby
 
I am sure that the future will exonerate Lolita from the charge of pornography as compleately as we have exonerated Ulysses.
added by Sylak | editSaturday Review, Granville Hicks
 
Some readers may find Lolita offensive. It is a strange combination of roman noir and hot-potato. But more accurately it is an authentic work of art which compels our immediate response and serious reflection _ a revealing and indispensable comedy of horrors.
added by Sylak | editSan Francisco Chronicle, Lewis Vogler
 

» Add other authors (52 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Nabokov, Vladimirprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Amis, MartinIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Coutinho, M.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Daurella, JosepTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Irons, JeremyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kahane, ÉricTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ray, John J., Jr.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Verhoef, RienTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palette to tap, at three, on the teeth.
Quotations
Lolita, mitt livs lys, mine lenders flamme. Min synd, min sjel. Lo-li-ta: tungespissen tripper tre trinn nedover ganen for til slutt på det tredje å tromme mot fortennene. Lo. Li. Ta.
Hun var Lo, rett og slett Lo om morgenen når hun stod der 1,54 på sokkelesten. Hun var Lola i slacks, hun var Dolly på skolen. Hun var Dolores når hun signerte på den prikkete linjen. Men i mine armer var hun alltid Lolita.
Noen fortalt meg senere at hun hadde vært forelsket i far og at han tankeløst hadde benyttet seg av det en dag tilværelsen var riktig grå og hadde glemt det igjen da solen atter begynte å skinne.
Nå satt jeg og tenkte på om Valechka (som obersten kalte henne) egentlig var verdt skyting, kvelning eller drukning. Hun hadde svært ømfintlige ben, så jeg bestemte meg til å nøye meg med å klype henne kraftig når vi ble alene.
Fra forfatterens etterord: Om de fant det pornografisk eller ikke, interesserer meg ikke. Når de ikke ville anta boken, skyldtes det ikke min behandling av emnet, men emnet selv; for det er minst tre emner som er absolutt tabu hva flertallet av amerikanske forleggere angår. De to andre er: et neger-hvit-ekteskap som er en fullstendig og strålende suksess med tallrike barn og barnebarn, samt den absolutte ateist som lever et lykkelig og nyttig liv og sover seg inn i døden hunde og seks år gammel.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Please do not combine Lolita with The Annotated Lolita.
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Wikipedia in English (4)

Book description
Awe and exhilaration - along with heartbreak and mordant wit - abound in Lotlita, Vladimir Nabokov’s most famous and controversial novel, which tells the story of the aging Humbert Humbert’s obsessive, devouring, and doomed passion for the nymphet Dolores Haze. Lolita is also the story of a hyper civilized European colliding with the cheerful barbarism of postwar America. Most of all, it is a meditation on love-love as outrage and hallucination, madness and transformation.
Haiku summary
Not a love story
Road trip for slick pedophiles
Genius writing, though.
(citygirl)
Pedophile's urge in
Sexist culture of U.S.
Each kills the spirit!
(Sinetrig)
Lubricious nymphets
And exuberant wordplay.
Now who's this Quilty?

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679723161, Paperback)

Despite its lascivious reputation, the pleasures of Lolita are as much intellectual as erogenous. It is a love story with the power to raise both chuckles and eyebrows. Humbert Humbert is a European intellectual adrift in America, haunted by memories of a lost adolescent love. When he meets his ideal nymphet in the shape of 12-year-old Dolores Haze, he constructs an elaborate plot to seduce her, but first he must get rid of her mother. In spite of his diabolical wit, reality proves to be more slippery than Humbert's feverish fantasies, and Lolita refuses to conform to his image of the perfect lover.

Playfully perverse in form as well as content, riddled with puns and literary allusions, Nabokov's 1955 novel is a hymn to the Russian-born author's delight in his adopted language. Indeed, readers who want to probe all of its allusive nooks and crannies will need to consult the annotated edition. Lolita is undoubtedly, brazenly erotic, but the eroticism springs less from the "frail honey-hued shoulders ... the silky supple bare back" of little Lo than it does from the wantonly gorgeous prose that Humbert uses to recount his forbidden passion:

She was musical and apple-sweet ... Lola the bobby-soxer, devouring her immemorial fruit, singing through its juice ... and every movement she made, every shuffle and ripple, helped me to conceal and to improve the secret system of tactile correspondence between beast and beauty--between my gagged, bursting beast and the beauty of her dimpled body in its innocent cotton frock.
Much has been made of Lolita as metaphor, perhaps because the love affair at its heart is so troubling. Humbert represents the formal, educated Old World of Europe, while Lolita is America: ripening, beautiful, but not too bright and a little vulgar. Nabokov delights in exploring the intercourse between these cultures, and the passages where Humbert describes the suburbs and strip malls and motels of postwar America are filled with both attraction and repulsion, "those restaurants where the holy spirit of Huncan Dines had descended upon the cute paper napkins and cottage-cheese-crested salads." Yet however tempting the novel's symbolism may be, its chief delight--and power--lies in the character of Humbert Humbert. He, at least as he tells it, is no seedy skulker, no twisted destroyer of innocence. Instead, Nabokov's celebrated mouthpiece is erudite and witty, even at his most depraved. Humbert can't help it--linguistic jouissance is as important to him as the satisfaction of his arrested libido. --Simon Leake

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:33:12 -0400)

(see all 12 descriptions)

The most controversial classic novel of the 20th century, Lolita tells the story of Humbert Humbert, a middle-aged man who is aroused to erotic desire only by a young girl. Awe and exhilaration--along with heartbreak and mordant wit--abound in Lolita, Nabokov's most famous and controversial novel, which tells the story of the aging Humbert Humbert's obsessive, devouring, and doomed passion for the nymphet Dolores Haze. Lolita is also the story of a hypercivilized European colliding with the cheerful barbarism of postwar America. Most of all, it is a meditation on love--love as outrage and hallucination, madness and transformation.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 16 descriptions

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Seven editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 014102349X, 014118504X, 0141037431, 0141193670, 024195164X, 0241953243, 0141197013

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