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Lolita by Vladimir Vladimirovitsj Nabokov
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Lolita (original 1955; edition 1985)

by Vladimir Vladimirovitsj Nabokov

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
29,64453882 (4.08)1 / 1145
(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)When it was published in 1955, "Lolita" immediately became a cause célèbre because of the freedom and sophistication with which it handled the unusual erotic predilections of its protagonist. But Vladimir Nabokov's wise, ironic, elegant masterpiece owes its stature as one of the twentieth century's novels of record not to the controversy its material aroused but to its author's use of that material to tell a love story almost shocking in its beauty and tenderness. Awe and exhilaration-along with heartbreak and mordant wit-abound in this account 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, but most of all, it is a meditation on love-love as outrage and hallucination, madness and transformation.With an Introduction by Martin Amis "From the Hardcover edition."… (more)
Member:Fageraasveien40
Title:Lolita
Authors:Vladimir Vladimirovitsj Nabokov
Info:[Oslo] : Cappelen, 1985
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:None

Work Information

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955)

  1. 51
    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.
  2. 40
    The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: Another villain made sympathetic by a talented author.
  3. 40
    The Lover by Marguerite Duras (roby72)
  4. 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.
  5. 20
    The Captive by Marcel Proust (caflores)
  6. 21
    Taming the Beast by Emily Maguire (infiniteletters)
  7. 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?
  8. 10
    The Pornographer of Vienna by Lewis Crofts (heidijane)
  9. 00
    His Monkey Wife by John Collier (SnootyBaronet)
    SnootyBaronet: Euphuistic narratives of forbidden love
  10. 00
    The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara (pterodactling)
  11. 00
    The Death of David Debrizzi by Paul Micou (KayCliff)
  12. 00
    My Heavenly Favourite by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld (tmrps)
    tmrps: Both stories about older men who fall in love with young girls.
  13. 00
    The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (mcenroeucsb)
  14. 00
    The North China Lover by Marguerite Duras (edwinbcn)
    edwinbcn: Another story of a man with a passion for a young girl.
  15. 01
    Eve by James Hadley Chase (caflores)
  16. 01
    A Cruel God Reigns, Volume 1 by Moto Hagio (Anonymous user)
  17. 01
    A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce (kara.shamy)
  18. 01
    The Devil in the Flesh by Raymond Radiguet (SnootyBaronet)
  19. 01
    The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker (suniru)
  20. 02
    The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (kara.shamy)

(see all 23 recommendations)

1950s (16)
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Group TopicMessagesLast Message 
 2013 Category Challenge: **Lolita Group Read81 unread / 81SqueakyChu, February 12

» See also 1145 mentions

English (489)  Spanish (12)  Dutch (7)  Italian (6)  French (4)  Portuguese (Brazil) (4)  Portuguese (Portugal) (2)  Hebrew (1)  Portuguese (1)  Danish (1)  German (1)  Hungarian (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (530)
Showing 1-5 of 489 (next | show all)
Very interesting book. From the "I've been meaning to read this book for years" list. Not quite what I expected from cultural references--both worse and better than I expected. ( )
  wahoo8895 | Nov 20, 2022 |
I don't really know what to think about this! Creepy, taboo, disturbing and uncomfortable mixed with some "philosophy" and a bit of French. ( )
  Pilgriminal | Nov 12, 2022 |
Unable to make it past 5%. Too disgusting, and I was unable to detach from what I was reading. ( )
  WavelessOcean | Sep 9, 2022 |
Back when it was published in 1955, the story of Lolita convulsed its readers and revealed a completely new portray of a paedophile's life. The character of Humbert Humbert has become a well-known and much-interpreted part of 20th century literature, and ever since its publication, Nabokov's novel has been banned for certain periods of time in France, England, Argentina, New Zealand and South Africa due to its difficult contents. Focusing on the life of highly intelligent and incalculable Humbert Humbert and his delusional sexual fascination with Dolores "Lolita" Haze, aged 12 at the beginning of this novel, Nabokov will take you on a journey you will not forget about.

Even in spite of all the controversy surrounding its contents, Lolita has turned into one of the most influencial books from the last century, often referred to as a book everyone has to read once in their lifetime. Apparently, according to various internet sources, Nabokov was so disgusted by the character of Humbert himself that he almost burned the manuscript - which is understandable, as the nature of our protagonist's thoughts and deeds are difficult to understand and sometimes even painful to think about.

First, let's take a look at Jeremy Irons as Humbert Humbert from the 1997 movie adaption:



This is the man I have imagined Humbert to look like throughout the entire course of the novel. Because even though Humbert is a paedophile on the inside, he appears to be a friendly, charming and interesting man on the outside. Humbert is a man whose lies people easily fall for, whose intricate net of self-invented stories it is difficult to elude without having the ability to look inside his head, as Vladimir Nabokov allowed us to. As disgusting and repulsive as Humbert's deeds were, they were always confided inside his soul. He is a man who visits prostitutes and imagines them to be 13 or 14 years old in order to gain sexual pleasure from his visit, a man who tricks people into not realizing the real nature of his character, a man who marries Charlotte Haze only in order to be close to her daughter Lolita who he feels sexually attracted to. Humbert is a man who tricks even himself into thinking that no matter how severe the crime he committed, its performance has been inevitable as a result of his personality.

Humbert pleads with the reader to understand his feelings of guilt and remorse, yet he never truly considers the possibility of accepting responsibility for the sickness of his behaviour. Nabokov masterfully explores the themes embedded in this novel, using word plays, elements of humor and beautiful descriptions to pull the reader into the story. Nabokov's prose is likely going to surprise you with its beauty, juxtaposing the ugliness of Humbert's character. Moreover, the author loves to play with language, sometimes even makes up new words; you will frequently see the narrator drifting off into the usage of French vocabulary. My French was good enough to understand the meaning of those parts, yet I can imagine how distracting and confusing they might be for a reader without knowledge of the French language.

Ultimately, Humbert doesn't only seduce Lolita, he also seduces the reader with his words and thoughts. And yet, can the book really be described as a story about a guilty perpetrator and an innocent victim? In 1958, American writer Dorothy Parker wrote a review for this book, calling Lolita "a dreadful little creature, selfish, hard, vulgar, and foul-tempered" - and nobody could judge her for this characterization. Even now, after having finished the book and thought about it for more than a month, I don't know what to make of Lolita's character. I can only encourage everyone to read this novel and create an own image of Lolita, a girl who perhaps couldn't even tell you who she is herself.

Interestingly, Nabokov wrote the novel while on butterfly-collection trips in the western United States, mirroring the cross-country journey of Lolita and Humbert which took place in the novel. Nabokov succeeded in painting an intriguing and stunning picture of the American 40's and early 50's, turning his novel not only into the journey through a human being's mind, but also into an epic trip across the United States. It should also be noted that Nabokov himself disagreed with all the different editions featuring a young girl on the cover as those images cause the general idea of Lolita being an erotica novel. Maybe I should be glad about owning a simple hardcover edition with a purely plain-coloured binding.

The book made me extremely uncomfortable during parts of the story, but it has been written to do so. I don't believe any reader could be comfortable during the lecture of this novel, and thus I will recommend it only to people who are completely convinced of reading about the troubled and controversial life of Humbert Humbert. But if you can appreciate complex and intelligent stories, layered writing and beautiful prose, you should give it a chance to find out for yourself what this novel is actually about. ( )
  Councillor3004 | Sep 1, 2022 |
This is a really well written book, that is if you can stomach the first half of the novel. To be honesty there were time I wanted to stop reading Lolita. This is a novel with a sickly obsessed narrator where you feel like you need to beg him to shut up with his stupidity. Why should you read this then? Simple: it really well written, it's on the banned book list, and it's a classic.

Lolita not only has one of the most famous first lines in literature, it also has one of the most notorious plots. Humbert Humbert is a man close to his 40s who falls madly obsessed in love with a 12 year old girl named Dolores Haze, whom he names Lolita. The first half of the novel Nabokov does a great job explaining all of this to us. He makes it very clear that Humbert is in fact a pedophile. He not only like Lolita, but other girls as well. This is the part of the novel that is sickening to read.

As much as the novel creeps you out and makes you sick, it very addicting. I found that I couldn't stop thinking about it nor could I put it down. I think I liked the second part of the book better because I started to see why Updike has a review on the back of my edition. If you want to write an American classic, write a scene or more about driving. Actually with all the chaos that happens in Lolita, those parts were relaxing.

I'm not sure how they made this into two movie and gave justice to the book. The age difference I understand with Lolita, yet it does change the meaning of the book. Humbert didn't just care for girl, but nymphets. Also, Humbert breaks the fourth wall several times and I wonder if the movies even make that attempt with keeping the seriousness of the novel. Going to watch the movies, but at the same time I know I won't like them as much.

There is so much going on in this novel and so much I can talk about, but a lot f it is spoilers for here. The ending makes me ask questions about Lolita and Hubert's actually relationship. Yet, I hope people do take the time and read the book. Yes t one of the most disturbing books I've read, but that's why people need to read Lolita. After all it's "my sin, my soul". ( )
  Ghost_Boy | Aug 25, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 489 (next | show all)
35 livres cultes à lire au moins une fois dans sa vie
Quels sont les romans qu'il faut avoir lu absolument ? Un livre culte qui transcende, fait réfléchir, frissonner, rire ou pleurer… La littérature est indéniablement créatrice d’émotions. Si vous êtes adeptes des classiques, ces titres devraient vous plaire.
De temps en temps, il n'y a vraiment rien de mieux que de se poser devant un bon bouquin, et d'oublier un instant le monde réel. Mais si vous êtes une grosse lectrice ou un gros lecteur, et que vous avez épuisé le stock de votre bibliothèque personnelle, laissez-vous tenter par ces quelques classiques de la littérature.
 
Haven’t we been conditioned to feel that Lolita is sui generis, a black sheep, a bit of tasteful, indeed ‘beautiful’ erotica, and that Nabokov himself, with this particular novel, somehow got ‘carried away’? Great writers, however, never get carried away. Even pretty average writers never get carried away. People who write one novel and then go back to journalism or accountancy (‘Louder, bitch!’) – they get carried away. Lolita is more austere than rapturous, as all writing is; and I have come to see it, with increasing awe, as exactly the kind of novel that its predecessors are pointing towards...

At one point, comparing himself to Joyce, Nabokov said: ‘my English is patball to [his] champion game’. At another, he tabulated the rambling rumbles of Don Quixote as a tennis match (the Don taking it in four hard sets). And we all remember Lolita on the court, her form ‘excellent to superb’, according to her schoolmistress, but her grace ‘so sterile’, according to Humbert, ‘that she could not even win from panting me and my old fashioned lifting drive’. Now, although of course Joyce and Nabokov never met in competition, it seems to me that Nabokov was the more ‘complete’ player. Joyce appeared to be cruising about on all surfaces at once, and maddeningly indulged his trick shots on high-pressure points – his drop smash, his sidespun half-volley lob. Nabokov just went out there and did the business, all litheness, power and touch. Losing early in the French (say), Joyce would be off playing exhibitions in Casablanca with various arthritic legends, and working on his inside-out between-the-legs forehand dink; whereas Nabokov and his entourage would quit the rusty dust of Roland Garros for somewhere like Hull or Nailsea, to prepare for Wimbledon on our spurned and sodden grass.
added by SnootyBaronet | editThe Atlantic, Martin Amis
 
The development of this emigre’s euphuism is a likely consequence of Nabokov’s having had to abandon his natural idiom, as he puts it, his ‘untrammelled, rich and infinitely docile Russian tongue for a second-rate brand of English, devoid of any of those apparatuses —the baffling mirror, the black velvet backdrop, the implied associations and traditions—which the native illusionist, fractails flying, can magically use to transcend the heritage in his own way.’ This, which enacts the problem with characteristic tricksy indirection, also implies its solution as the laborious confection of equivalent apparatuses in the adoptive language: the whole farrago of imagery, archaism, etc., which cannot strike even the most finely tuned foreign ear as it strikes that of the native English-speaker. The end product sadly invokes a Charles Atlas muscle-man of language as opposed to the healthy and useful adult...

There comes a point where the atrophy of moral sense, evident throughout this book, finally leads to dullness, fatuity and unreality. Humbert’s ‘love’ for Lolita is a matter of the senses, even of the membranes; his moments of remorse are few, brief and unconvincing; it never really occurs to him to ask himself just what the hell he thinks he is up to. There is plenty of self-absorption around us, heaven knows, but not enough on this scale to be worth writing about at length, just as the mad are much less interesting than the sane.
added by SnootyBaronet | editThe Spectator, Kingsley Amis
 
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
 

» Add other authors (35 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Nabokov, Vladimirprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Amis, MartinIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Arborio Mella, GiuliaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
康雄, 大久保Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bang-Hansen, OddTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carlsson, MariaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Coutinho, M.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Daurella, JosepTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dirda, MichaelIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hessel, HelenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Irons, JeremyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kahane, ÉricTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mella, Giulia ArborioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Raine, CraigAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ray, John J., Jr.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Verhoef, RienTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zimmer, Dieter E.Revisorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
正, 若島翻訳secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
To Véra
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
He did not use a fountain pen which fact, as any psycho-analyst will tell you, meant that the patient was a repressed undinist.
Then I pulled out my automatic - I mean, this is the kind of fool thing a reader might suppose I did. It never even occurred to me to do it.
My father was a gentle, easy-going person, a salad of racial genes: a Swiss citizen, of mixed French and Austrian descent, with a dash of the Danube in his veins.
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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 Jacket Status: Jacketed)When it was published in 1955, "Lolita" immediately became a cause célèbre because of the freedom and sophistication with which it handled the unusual erotic predilections of its protagonist. But Vladimir Nabokov's wise, ironic, elegant masterpiece owes its stature as one of the twentieth century's novels of record not to the controversy its material aroused but to its author's use of that material to tell a love story almost shocking in its beauty and tenderness. Awe and exhilaration-along with heartbreak and mordant wit-abound in this account 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, but most of all, it is a meditation on love-love as outrage and hallucination, madness and transformation.With an Introduction by Martin Amis "From the Hardcover edition."

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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?

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Penguin Australia

6 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

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

 

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