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Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Lolita (original 1955; edition 1997)

by Vladimir Nabokov

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22,05133359 (4.14)1 / 901
Authors:Vladimir Nabokov
Info:Vintage (1997), Paperback
Collections:Read in 2013, Read but unowned
Tags:READ 2013

Work details

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955)

  1. 40
    The Lover by Marguerite Duras (roby72)
  2. 41
    Memories of my Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (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.
  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
    A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce (kara.shamy)
  10. 00
    The Death of David Debrizzi by Paul Micou (KayCliff)
  11. 00
    The North China Lover by Marguerite Duras (edwinbcn)
    edwinbcn: Another story of a man with a passion for a young girl.
  12. 00
    The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (mcenroeucsb)
  13. 01
    The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker (suniru)
  14. 02
    The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (kara.shamy)
  15. 03
    Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (kara.shamy)
  16. 04
    Hamlet by William Shakespeare (kara.shamy)
  17. 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 (312)  Dutch (8)  Spanish (5)  French (2)  Italian (2)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Portuguese (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Hebrew (1)  Danish (1)  German (1)  All languages (335)
Showing 1-5 of 312 (next | show all)
This is a novel which should be approached and dealt with very, very carefully indeed. What Nabokov has done here remains as liable to detonate and rip the world apart now as it did when it was first published nearly 50 years ago.

In particular because child sexual abuse is more in the headlines that it ever has been, Lolita is a novel that is likely to divide popular opinion. In much the same way as Imre Kertesz' Fateless does, it forces the reader to face the dilemma of what you do when something so repugnant is depicted so skilfully. With such sensitivity to the protagonists in the writing, you can't help but sympathise with them while at the same time having to constantly wrestle back to the forefront of your mind the reality of what is laid before you.

Lolita is a well-known story of a man's affair with a 12-year-old girl and the escapades they go to in order to maintain the secrecy of their relationship. It is astonishingly well written. Nabokov is one of the best writers of prose I think I've ever read. Of that there is no doubt, and I am very much looking forward to reading more of his novels. But it's the fact that it's so well written that brings about the dilemma that I've mentioned and the novel is pure genius for this construction.

The novel is also genius for the fact that it is just as (if not more) relevant for us today as it was on publication. Back when this was written, it wasn't only paedophilia that was taboo. Homosexuality was also very much something people would hide from the authorities. Today, one of these has now become perfectly acceptable to popular culture in the United States, the setting of Nabokov's novel, while he other is still regarded as a criminal offence.

One might argue that homosexuality and paedophilia differ in that the former occurs, at least in society's accepted form, between consenting adults whereas the latter does not. But Nabokov also challenges this assumption. How reliable a narrator Humbert Humbert really is we will never know. But, according to him, it is he that is seduced by Lolita, not the other way around. Does this then justify it? At what age are we able to make choices about what we do with our bodies? Homosexuality in the UK used to be a criminal offence and was then legalised for consenting adults over 21... then 18... and now 16 years of age. How did this reduction happen? Have we evolved to become more mature sexually at a younger age or is this simply based on society's view of what is acceptable or not? How can sex at 15 years 11 months of age be a crime when, a month later, it is a right?

So, will 2065 see a US society that accepts a 42 year old marrying a 12 year old? Maybe it will. And if you find this repugnant, what do you think will prevent it? Why will your grandchildren not find your current 'prudish' and 'bigoted' views about paedophilia derisory and so, oh, Old Testament? When society makes its moral rules simply through democratic opinion, all you need is a majority for it to be acceptable. When Lolita was published, it was unthinkable to many that a 16 year old boy could ever legally have sex with another and yet we live in such a time. What is unthinkable to us now will almost certainly be permissible in the future. History has taught us that and the novel as an art form has been its voice.

This has not only made my Hall of Fame (the first since Growth of the Soil over two years ago), but it has equalled the highest ever rating that I've ever given a book tying with Cry, the Beloved Country at 95%. That is quite an achievement, but definitely a deserved one. ( )
1 vote arukiyomi | Jun 6, 2015 |
Lolita has been on my tbr list for months. I knew it was a classic and had a vague understanding of what it was about, but some reactions (which I now believe are to the film, at least I hope), how the word Lolita is used today, and just the cover of the book had put me off to Lolita. I then saw a post on Tumblr by user Gowns (see said post) that the cover was all wrong and didn’t reflect what the book was truly about and went against Vladimir Nabokov wishes. So I decided to it’s time to read Lolita.

Lolita is at times uncomfortable and upsetting to read, but it is suppose to be. Our narrative Humbert Humbert is a pedophile, he is aware what he likes is wrong and that acting on them makes him a monster. He does try to defend himself at times by putting the blame onto Lolita and other young girls for being seductive, but overall he straight up admits its all in his sick mind. That reason alone made me like this book. I liked that the sexual scenes were not put into great detail, the reader knows Humbert is buying Dolores things and letting her do things she wants in return for sexual favors, the detail of the sexual favors are not there and I greatly appreciate that. So why is the book so uncomfortable? Because it is written as a memoir from a pedophile’s point of view, Humbert is fully aware how he is ruining Dolores’ life, but continues on. Dolores isn’t even likable, but that doesn’t matter at all because what is happening to her is just awful. I did get kind of confused towards the end when she escapes. I first thought he was just being paranoid since he was breaking down mentally for a few chapters already and then Humbert suggest the reader already knows who took Dolores. No clues. But it all wraps up and it is explained what happened and Humbert seeks revenge. I also enjoyed you know from the beginning he is in jail, why he is writing his memoir and why they are released.

So I’m left with questions after finally reading Lolita. How did the word lolita come to mean a underage girl who seduces older men. Dolores did no such thing, and if you are refering to her initiating the first time they had sex, he is still a grown ass man and she was a child, a child cannot seduce someone. It’s disgusting people see it that way. It terrifies me people label Lolita as a romance book. Did you read the same book I did? Good lord. Why are so many of the covers of Lolita sexualizing a young girl? These questions are what kept me from reading Lolita for so long and now after reading the book I do not have an answer to them and just makes me question these issues even more so. ( )
  GrlIntrrptdRdng | May 14, 2015 |
Wonderful - read it slowly ( )
  lee-mervin | Mar 22, 2015 |
Not really at all what I expected. Yes, basis for the story is Humbert Humbert's perverse relationship with Lolita...that I expected. What I didn't expect was the comedy of errors that ensued in trying to maintain such a relationship. I can't say that I particularly cared for this novel. The flowery prose got to be annoying, the chase tiring, and I found myself just wanting to finish the book and move on. I am glad that I read the book, however, if just for the knowledge of what this classic is really all about. ( )
  she_climber | Feb 3, 2015 |
Nabokov's portrayal of HH was excellent. The material is disturbing, but that's not a bad thing. I wish there had been less French, since I do not know French. But I'm willing to accept that pretentious HH likes to speak French a lot. ( )
  lavaturtle | Dec 31, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 312 (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
Amis, MartinIllustratorsecondary 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.
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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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.
Pedophile's urge in
Sexist culture of U.S.
Each kills the spirit!
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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:34 -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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7 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

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

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