Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

November 4, 2016 Whitney Review 5 Comments

Lolita by Vladimir NabokovLolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Published by Random House Audio on April 26th 2005
Genres: Classic
Source: Library

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.
(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)
From the Hardcover edition.

Impressions on Book

I had not read Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov in a least ten years and after watching the 1962 movie felt it was time to reread the classic novel. When I first read Lolita I remember being shocked by Humbert Humbert’s actions finding it grotesque. On this reread, in a generation jaded by violence and sex, the book seemed tame. The subject matter was still disturbing and there was one forced scene that left my jaw slack. However, with Jared Fogles and catfishing children in chatrooms seemingly more prevalent Lolita did not have the same impact.

I liked that it was told from the perspective of Humbert Humbert, his justifying his behavior was eerie and just wrong and keeps the reader’s attention as to just how sensual Lolita actually was and how much was all in Humbert Humbert’s head. It is not until the end that Humbert acknowledge that what he did may not have been consensual. Even then, I had to question how much of it was for his lawyer’s benefit.

Impressions on Narration

I listened to Jeremy Irons narrate Lolita and it was true book porn. I could listen to him read the phone book — he is that good.

Final Impressions

Overall, I don’t think Lolita was as X rated as it was upon its first publication. Although, it was still an impressive work of literature and is worth the read.


5 responses to “Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

  1. I’ve been meaning to re-read Lolita sometime soon as well, it’s been so long that I don’t remember much. The audio version sounds like it would be a really interesting experience, so I might have to look into that for the next time I dive in. It’s one of those books that I sometimes feel weird saying I enjoyed, but the way in which it was written is such an interesting experience and also what makes it a literary classic. Great review. 🙂
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    • I think the audio would be a great choice if you haven’t read it in a while. Jeremy Irons sets a great tone to the novel. I always feel weird saying I enjoy Lolita as well because of the subject matter but, Nabokov is so eloquent with his writing that I find it difficult not to become engrossed.

  2. I have this on my shelf and look forward to reading it. I love books that were scandalous in the time in which it was written. I think that’s why I loved Giovanni’s Room so much. When I think about how it was perceived by the readers of the day it changes how I see the story.
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