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

by Vladimir Nabokov

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
20,870None68 (4.15)1 / 806
Member:bucketyell
Title:Lolita
Authors:Vladimir Nabokov
Info:Vintage (1997), Paperback
Collections:Read in 2013, Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:READ 2013

Work details

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955)

1001 (101) 1001 books (81) 1950s (61) 20th century (283) American (162) American literature (192) classic (561) classics (393) erotica (63) favorites (67) fiction (2,192) literature (450) love (80) made into movie (60) Nabokov (166) novel (470) obsession (149) own (97) pedophilia (271) read (299) Roman (73) romance (86) Russia (96) Russian (298) Russian literature (262) sex (113) sexuality (135) to-read (286) unread (97) USA (81)
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. 20
    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. 10
    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
    The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (kara.shamy)
  11. 00
    The Death of David Debrizzi by Paul Micou (KayCliff)
  12. 00
    The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (mcenroeucsb)
  13. 00
    A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce (kara.shamy)
  14. 01
    Hamlet by William Shakespeare (kara.shamy)
  15. 02
    Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (kara.shamy)
  16. 02
    Dismantle the Sun by Jim Snowden (Anonymous user)
  17. 03
    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. 05
    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 (295)  Dutch (8)  Spanish (4)  French (2)  Italian (2)  Portuguese (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Danish (1)  German (1)  All languages (316)
Showing 1-5 of 295 (next | show all)
Quality of Writing: 10 out of 10
Pace: 7 out of 10
Plot Development: 8 out of 10
Characters: 10 out of 10
Enjoyability: 10 out of 10
Insightfulness: 9 out of 10
Ease of Reading: 8 out of 10
Photos/Illustrations: NA

Even though the pace was a bit slow and I had to stop at the beginning of Part 2 for a while to read other novels, Lolita is really well-written. The subject matter might be a bit risque and might make some people not want to read it, but I think Lolita is very worth it. It is a very good insight into the justification of devious actions and it's written from the antagonist's point of view, not the victim's. ( )
  AprilAnn0814 | Apr 15, 2014 |
I was lied to in my youth (MTV, Reagan) by a young man named Gordon who, while prancing about in a British school teacher's robe, bemoaned a certain situation with a young student:

"just LIKE that
old MAN in
that BOOK by
NAB-o-kov"

The lie was in the pronunciation. But then, had he shifted the sylLABles to the correct "naBOKov," he would have destroyed the meter, and as we know Gordon likes his meter. Still, I have forever pronounced the author's name incorrectly because of it.

It took me two weeks to get through this novel. Part of it was the initial horror of the subject matter ("am I really reading this?"). Then, there's the writing itself. NaBOKov's controversial work is, above all else, a jungle of literary tricks. Realizing this (or being advised as such), I switched to the Annotated edition when I reached Part II. Doing so consolidated that which I had been Googling anyway: definitions, translations, parodies. There's the obvious, the "Lo and Behold" jokes, and there's the arcane (James Joyce, James Joyce, James Joyce). When you see the full range of riddles and references enumerated as they are in the Annotated Lolita, you appreciated the depth of NaBOKov's writing. "Lolita" is not for the casual reader. It proved a tremendous challenge for someone like me--not a literary scholar. But with guidance of the notes and Yale online sessions (three!), it was quite rewarding.

5 stars for the writing, the genius of it. -1 for the subject matter. 4 overall.

Now about those butterflies.... ( )
1 vote alienhard | Mar 26, 2014 |
“She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.”

Like the vast majority of the Western world I knew the basic story for this book but had never actually read it so felt that it was time to put that right. Sadly I was rather disappointed with it.

The subject matter did not really bother me (despite having a daughter myself) as I'm not so naive to believe that pedophilia does not exist or always has nor do I believe in censorship. Anyway anyone opening this book and expecting salaciousness will be disappointed because although we know that sex goes on within it the actual act is never truly visible.

The narrator tries to justify his actions and by suggestion that he did not have to drug Lolita, as he intended, before the first time that he abused her that she was somehow complicit in her downfall but as a reader we soon realize that he is not overly reliable.He endeavours to control Lolita ,by threats rather than physically force, to make her comply with his actions even going as far as using her to bring over 'nymphets' into their house for him to ogle but these are the words of the narrator rather than the author. Some regard this as a love story but personally I don't see it. Yes, Lolita is reliant on HH but I never felt that any love was reciprocated by her rather this is a novel about obsession. Lolita.Lolita speaks little throughout and always remains an enigma despite the book being named after her which is another clever ploy IMHO.

Many reviewers regard this book as a modern classic and there is no doubt it is a remarkable book especially as it was written in English rather than the author's own first tongue. Also the fact that the narrator is also a pedophile and as such a anti-hero is quite remarkable.Now I'm sure that many will disagree with me but I actually enjoyed the first half of this book,despite or maybe because of the subject matter,but disliked the second half despite. The second half, as the narrator slips into madness,was just overly descriptive and therefore the plot became ponderous and it stretched credulity just too far for my taste with the seemingly pointless second road-trip.The cover blurb talks of dark humour within but personally I just didn't see it.But perhaps the worst part of this book for me was the constant addition of French phrases, after a while I just gave up looking for their translations.

That said and done I'm glad that I've finally read it but whilst the imagery of the book will last the book itself will not. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Mar 23, 2014 |
I saw Kubrick's adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov's "Lolita" decades ago after being dragged there to a theater by a film student. I was amazed how much I liked it-- mainly because it was filled with innuendo and cleverly done to get around the censors of the day. I remember wondering if the book was also subtle or more overt, but I guess I didn't do a lot of reading for fun in college so I never picked up the book.

Until now that is. Of course, "Lolita" is not subtle at all -- it is a brash and thoroughly overt look at an unrepentant pedophile's destruction of his stepdaughter. The subject matter makes it really impossible for me to say I enjoyed the book.

However, I understand why it is so well-known and received. Nabokov has an amazing gift for language, especially knowing this was written in English, not his native Russian. So my rating is more or less for the writing and storytelling aspect of the book. ( )
  amerynth | Mar 1, 2014 |
Lovely word play. Seems to be the book that has been read by the largest number of my goodreads friends. ( )
  thatotter | Feb 4, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 295 (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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First words
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.)
Disambiguation notice
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 15 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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