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Lolita ()


Modern Library Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century (4)

Humbert Humbert is a European émigré intellectual, who since losing his first love at the age of twelve, has found himself in the thrall of nymphets. When Humbert goes looking for a place to live, he finds a rooming house where the landlady's daughter, Dolores Haze, is the living embodiment of his lost love.
Of course, she's only twelve, but our intrepid hero plots to marry & murder her mother & so gain access to his "Lolita".  When an accident removes the mother, Humbert Humbert & Lolita set off cross country on a motel jumping jaunt, until finally Lolita escapes with another pedophile.  Humbert now plans the revenge which lands him in prison, where he writes this memoir.

Since it's initial publication (abroad because no American firm would touch it), Lolita has been plagued by scandal.  Indeed a recent movie version could not find a distributor.  And this is entirely appropriate.  It should be difficult to publish a work about pedophilia.  However, this is undeniably a great work and deserves to be widely read by adults.  Humbert Humbert's obsessive passion may be for young girls but Nabokov's is for the English language.  The verbal pyrotechnics, puns,
word plays, etc. are brilliant & the language is luxuriant (at some point I'll have to read an annotated version, because it's impossible to catch all the allusions).

Having read the book several years ago, I listened to the Audio version this time.  It is read by Jeremy Irons and, while there are no obscenities in the book, his reading is so sensual & his enjoyment of the language is so evident, that I would urge folks to give it a listen (one caveat, it is 11.5 hours long).

(Reviewed:)

Grade: (A)

  

Websites:

Vladimir Nabokov Links:
    -Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977)(kirjasto)
    -ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA: Your search: "vladimir nabokov"
   -Life & Times : Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977) (NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of The Silence of the Sea, by Hilaire Belloc (Vladimir Nabokov, NY Times, 1941)
    -REVIEW: of Nausea, by Jean-Paul Sartre (Vladimir Nabokov, NY Times, 1949)
    -REVIEW: of AUDOBON'S BUTTERFLIES, MOTHS AND OTHER STUDIES. Compiled and Edited by Alice Ford  (Vladimir Nabokov, NY Times, 1952)
    -REVIEW: Vladimir Nabokov: Rowe's Symbols, NY Review of Books
        Nabokov's Deceptive World by William Woodin Rowe
    -ESSAY: Nabokov's Butterflies (Vladimir Nabokov, The Atlantic)
    -ESSAY: Vladimir Nabokov: On Translating Pushkin POUNDING THE CLAVICHORD, NY Review of Books
    -ESSAY: Vladimir Nabokov: TRANSLATION, NY Review of Books
    -ESSAY: Vladimir Nabokov: LUNAR LINES, NY Review of Books
    -STORY: "Cloud, Castle, Lake" (Nabokov, The Atlantic, June 1941)
    -STORY: The Aurelian (Vladimir Nabokov, The Atlantic, June 1941)
    -STORY: Vladimir Nabokov. The Assistant Producer (1943)
    -STORY: Vladimir Nabokov. A Forgotten Poet (1944)
    -STORY: Signs and Symbols  Vladimir Nabokov
    -STORIES: Vladimir Nabokov: Two by Nabokov, NY Review of Books
    -ARTICLE: Nonfiction: Nabokov Theory on Butterfly Evolution Is Vindicated (CARL ZIMMER, 1/25/11, NY Times)
    -Literary Research Guide: Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)
    -FEATURED AUTHOR: Celebrating Nabokov's Centenary (The New York Times)
    -OBIT: Vladimir Nabokov, Author of 'Lolita' and 'Ada,' Is Dead  (ALDEN WHITMAN, NY Times)
    -OBIT: Vladimir Nabokov: 1899-1977 (R.Z. SHEPPARD, TIME)
    -100 Years Vladimir  Nabokov (Random House)
    -Zembla
    -the international vladimir nabokov society
    -The Nabokronology: a guide to Vladimir Nabokov's life and works
    -{ w a x w i n g } the vladimir nabokov appreciation site
    -Ardis  Picture Archives:  Nabokov
    -Soapbox Collage: Vladimir Nabokov
    -Nabokov Under Glass: The Nabokov Archive in the Berg Collection at the New York Public Library
    -CNN In-Depth Specials on Nabokov: "Beyond Lolita: Rediscovering Nabokov on his birth centennial"
    -Vladimir Nabokov
    -ESSAY: The gay Nabokov:  The novelist never could face the secret that cost his brother his  life (LEV GROSSMAN, Salon)
    -ESSAY: Vladimir Nabokov and   William Shakespeare (Philip F Howerton, Jr., Winter 1990 Shakespeare Oxford Society Newsletter)
    -ESSAY: The Nabokov gambit :  They failed with Lolita (twice) and now they've failed with The Luzhin Defence. Why do the novels of the great prose sorcerer Vladimir Nabokov always defeat the film-makers? (Steven Poole, Books Unlimited)
    -REVIEW: of Speak, Memory Evidence of the Hunt, Clues of a Past (ELIOT FREMONT-SMITH, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: D.J. Enright: Nabokov's Way, NY Review of Books
        The Waltz Invention by Vladimir Nabokov
        The Eye by Vladimir Nabakov
        Despair by Vladimir Nabokov
        Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited by Vladimir Nabokov
        Escape Into Aesthetics: The Art of Vladimir Nabokov by Page Stegner
    -REVIEW: The Reality of the  Past: Book review of  'Speak, Memory' (JAN. 20, 1967, TIME)
    -REVIEW: of Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov  The Tragedy of Man Driven by Desire (ELIZABETH JANEWAY, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Lolita (Orville Prescott, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of  Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov  (Charles Rolo, The Atlantic, SEPTEMBER  1958)
    -REVIEW: To the End of Night: Book review of 'Lolita' (SEPT. 1, 1958, TIME)
    -ESSAY: The Lolita Case (Time, 1958)
    -REVIEW: of Pale Fire  In an Elaborate Spoof, Nabokov Takes Us to the Never-Never Land of Zembla (GEORGE CLOYNE,  Sunday, May 27, 1962, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Pale Fire (Christopher Keep, Tim McLaughlin)
    -REVIEW: V.S. Pritchett: The Magician's Trick, NY Review of Books
        The Enchanter by Vladimir Nabokov and translated by Dmitri Nabokov
    -REVIEW: V.S. Pritchett: The Supreme Fairy Tale, NY Review of Books
        Lectures on Don Quixote by Vladimir Nabokov
    -REVIEW: John Bayley: The Novelist as Pedagogue, NY Review of Books
        Lectures on Russian Literature by Vladimir Nabokov
    -REVIEW: Robert M. Adams: Nabokov's Show, NY Review of Books
        Lectures on Literature: British, French, and German Writers by Vladimir Nabokov
    -REVIEW:  V.S. Pritchett: Nabokov's Touch, NY Review of Books
        Look at the Harlequins! by Vladimir Nabokov
        Strong Opinions by Vladimir Nabokov
    -REVIEW: Michael Wood: Tender Trousers, NY Review of Books
        Transparent Things by Vladimir Nabokov
    -REVIEW:  V.S. Pritchett: Genesis, NY Review of Books
        Glory by Vladimir Nabokov, translated by Dimitri Nabokov
        The Scorpion God by William Golding
    -REVIEW: Jack Richardson: It's About Time, NY Review of Books
        Mary by Vladimir Nabokov and translated by Michael Glenny
    -REVIEW:  Matthew Hodgart: Happy Families, NY Review of Books
        ADA or Ardor: A Family Chronicle by Vladimir Nabokov
    -REVIEW: William H. Gass: Mirror, Mirror, NY Review of Books
        King, Queen, Knave by Vladimir Nabokov
        Nabokov: The Man and His Work edited by L.S. Dembo
        Keys to Lolita by Carl R. Proffer
    -REVIEW: Edmund Wilson: The Strange Case of Pushkin and Nabokov, NY Review of Books
        Eugene Onegin A Novel in Verse by Alexandr Pushkin, translated by Vladimir Nabokov
    -RESPONSE:  Vladimir Nabokov: LETTERS: THE STRANGE CASE OF NABOKOV AND
WILSON, NY Review of Books
    -REVIEW: Harry Levin: A Contest Between Conjurors, NY Review of Books
        The Nabokov-Wilson Letters: Correspondence Between Vladimir Nabokov and Edmund Wilson, 1940-1971
    -REVIEW: Robert M. Adams: Nabokov's Game, NY Review of Books
        The Defense by Vladimir Nabokov
    -REVIEW: of Nabokov's Congeries (Anthony  Burgess, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov (1995,  John Updike, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW:  Robert M. Adams: The Wizard of Lake Cayuga, NY Review of Books
            Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years by Brian Boyd
    -REVIEW: V.S. Pritchett: Nabokov's Game, NY Review of Books
        Nabokov: His Life in Part by Andrew Field
    -REVIEW: Denis Donoghue: Absolute Pitch
        Nabokov: His Life in Art: A Critical Narrative by Andrew Field
    -REVIEW: of V E r  a  ( Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov )   BY STACY SCHIFF (MARY ELIZABETH WILLIAMS, Salon)
    -REVIEW: of Vera by Stacy Schiff Behind the Mask of Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov (Katherine Knorr, International Herald Tribune)
    -REVIEW: of NABOKOV'S BLUES: The Scientific Odyssey of a  Literary Genius By Kurt Johnson and Steve CoatesThe Ardent Collector  (Donald Smith, Washington Post Book World)
    -ESSAY: Freeing "Pale Fire" From Pale Fire: The next big Nabokov controversy. (Ron Rosenbaum, July 23, 2010, Slate)
    -ESSAY: The Year of 'Lolita'  (Brian Boyd, NY Times Book Review)
    -ESSAY: "Lolita," My Mother-in-Law, the Marquis de Sade, and Larry Flynt: Reflections on art, pornography, and censorship, after the taboos have all been smashed (Norman Podhoretz, Commentary)
    -ESSAY:  PERSONAL BEST: Lolita   (MARY ELIZABETH WILLIAMS, Salon)
    -ESSAY: PERSONAL BEST: Lolita (AMY TAN, Salon)
    -ESSAY: Vladimir Nabokov: A personal centenary salute (John Yewell, MetroActive)
    -ESSAY: F.W. Dupee: Nabokov: the Prose and Poetry of It All, NY Review of Books

Book-related and General Links:
    -Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977)(kirjasto)
    -ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA: Your search: "vladimir nabokov"
   -Life & Times : Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977) (NY Times)
    -ESSAY : The Art of Translation (Vladimir Nabokov, New Republic)
    -REVIEW: of The Silence of the Sea, by Hilaire Belloc (Vladimir Nabokov, NY Times, 1941)
    -REVIEW: of Nausea, by Jean-Paul Sartre (Vladimir Nabokov, NY Times, 1949)
    -REVIEW: of AUDOBON'S BUTTERFLIES, MOTHS AND OTHER STUDIES. Compiled and Edited by Alice Ford  (Vladimir Nabokov, NY Times, 1952)
    -REVIEW: Vladimir Nabokov: Rowe's Symbols, NY Review of Books
        Nabokov's Deceptive World by William Woodin Rowe
    -ESSAY: Nabokov's Butterflies (Vladimir Nabokov, The Atlantic)
    -ESSAY: Vladimir Nabokov: On Translating Pushkin POUNDING THE CLAVICHORD, NY Review of Books
    -ESSAY: Vladimir Nabokov: TRANSLATION, NY Review of Books
    -ESSAY: Vladimir Nabokov: LUNAR LINES, NY Review of Books
    -STORY: "Cloud, Castle, Lake" (Nabokov, The Atlantic, June 1941)
    -STORY: The Aurelian (Vladimir Nabokov, The Atlantic, June 1941)
    -STORY: Vladimir Nabokov. The Assistant Producer (1943)
    -STORY: Vladimir Nabokov. A Forgotten Poet (1944)
    -STORY: Signs and Symbols  Vladimir Nabokov
    -STORIES: Vladimir Nabokov: Two by Nabokov, NY Review of Books
    -Literary Research Guide: Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)
    -FEATURED AUTHOR: Celebrating Nabokov's Centenary (The New York Times)
    -OBIT: Vladimir Nabokov, Author of 'Lolita' and 'Ada,' Is Dead  (ALDEN WHITMAN, NY Times)
    -OBIT: Vladimir Nabokov: 1899-1977 (R.Z. SHEPPARD, TIME)
    -100 Years Vladimir  Nabokov (Random House)
    -Zembla
    -the international vladimir nabokov society
    -The Nabokronology: a guide to Vladimir Nabokov's life and works
    -{ w a x w i n g } the vladimir nabokov appreciation site
    -Ardis  Picture Archives:  Nabokov
    -Soapbox Collage: Vladimir Nabokov
    -Nabokov Under Glass: The Nabokov Archive in the Berg Collection at the New York Public Library
    -CNN In-Depth Specials on Nabokov: "Beyond Lolita: Rediscovering Nabokov on his birth centennial"
    -Vladimir Nabokov
    -ESSAY : Reading Vladimir Nabokov (Keith Gessen, Context)
    -ESSAY: The gay Nabokov:  The novelist never could face the secret that cost his brother his  life (LEV GROSSMAN, Salon)
    -ESSAY: Vladimir Nabokov and   William Shakespeare (Philip F Howerton, Jr., Winter 1990 Shakespeare Oxford Society Newsletter)
    -ESSAY: The Nabokov gambit :  They failed with Lolita (twice) and now they've failed with The Luzhin Defence. Why do the novels of the great prose sorcerer Vladimir Nabokov always defeat the film-makers? (Steven Poole, Books Unlimited)
    -ONLINE STUDY GUIDE : Lolita (Spark Notes)
    -REVIEW: of Speak, Memory Evidence of the Hunt, Clues of a Past (ELIOT FREMONT-SMITH, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: D.J. Enright: Nabokov's Way, NY Review of Books
        The Waltz Invention by Vladimir Nabokov
        The Eye by Vladimir Nabakov
        Despair by Vladimir Nabokov
        Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited by Vladimir Nabokov
        Escape Into Aesthetics: The Art of Vladimir Nabokov by Page Stegner
    -REVIEW: The Reality of the  Past: Book review of  'Speak, Memory' (JAN. 20, 1967, TIME)
    -REVIEW: of Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov  The Tragedy of Man Driven by Desire (ELIZABETH JANEWAY, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Lolita (Orville Prescott, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of  Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov  (Charles Rolo, The Atlantic, SEPTEMBER  1958)

    -REVIEW: To the End of Night: Book review of 'Lolita' (SEPT. 1, 1958, TIME)
    -ESSAY: The Lolita Case (Time, 1958)
    -REVIEW: of Pale Fire  In an Elaborate Spoof, Nabokov Takes Us to the Never-Never Land of Zembla (GEORGE CLOYNE,  Sunday, May 27, 1962, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Pale Fire (Christopher Keep, Tim McLaughlin)
    -REVIEW: V.S. Pritchett: The Magician's Trick, NY Review of Books
        The Enchanter by Vladimir Nabokov and translated by Dmitri Nabokov
    -REVIEW: V.S. Pritchett: The Supreme Fairy Tale, NY Review of Books
        Lectures on Don Quixote by Vladimir Nabokov
    -REVIEW: John Bayley: The Novelist as Pedagogue, NY Review of Books
        Lectures on Russian Literature by Vladimir Nabokov
    -REVIEW: Robert M. Adams: Nabokov's Show, NY Review of Books
        Lectures on Literature: British, French, and German Writers by Vladimir Nabokov
    -REVIEW:  V.S. Pritchett: Nabokov's Touch, NY Review of Books
        Look at the Harlequins! by Vladimir Nabokov
        Strong Opinions by Vladimir Nabokov
    -REVIEW: Michael Wood: Tender Trousers, NY Review of Books
        Transparent Things by Vladimir Nabokov
    -REVIEW:  V.S. Pritchett: Genesis, NY Review of Books
        Glory by Vladimir Nabokov, translated by Dimitri Nabokov
        The Scorpion God by William Golding
    -REVIEW: Jack Richardson: It's About Time, NY Review of Books
        Mary by Vladimir Nabokov and translated by Michael Glenny
    -REVIEW:  Matthew Hodgart: Happy Families, NY Review of Books
        ADA or Ardor: A Family Chronicle by Vladimir Nabokov
    -REVIEW: William H. Gass: Mirror, Mirror, NY Review of Books
        King, Queen, Knave by Vladimir Nabokov
        Nabokov: The Man and His Work edited by L.S. Dembo
        Keys to Lolita by Carl R. Proffer
    -REVIEW: Edmund Wilson: The Strange Case of Pushkin and Nabokov, NY Review of Books
        Eugene Onegin A Novel in Verse by Alexandr Pushkin, translated by Vladimir Nabokov
    -RESPONSE:  Vladimir Nabokov: LETTERS: THE STRANGE CASE OF NABOKOV AND
WILSON, NY Review of Books
    -REVIEW: Harry Levin: A Contest Between Conjurors, NY Review of Books
        The Nabokov-Wilson Letters: Correspondence Between Vladimir Nabokov and Edmund Wilson, 1940-1971
    -REVIEW: Robert M. Adams: Nabokov's Game, NY Review of Books
        The Defense by Vladimir Nabokov
    -REVIEW: of Nabokov's Congeries (Anthony  Burgess, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov (1995,  John Updike, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW:  Robert M. Adams: The Wizard of Lake Cayuga, NY Review of Books
            Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years by Brian Boyd
    -REVIEW: V.S. Pritchett: Nabokov's Game, NY Review of Books
        Nabokov: His Life in Part by Andrew Field
    -REVIEW: Denis Donoghue: Absolute Pitch
        Nabokov: His Life in Art: A Critical Narrative by Andrew Field
    -REVIEW: of V E r  a  ( Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov )   BY STACY SCHIFF (MARY ELIZABETH WILLIAMS, Salon)
    -REVIEW: of Vera by Stacy Schiff Behind the Mask of Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov (Katherine Knorr, International Herald Tribune)
    -REVIEW: of NABOKOV'S BLUES: The Scientific Odyssey of a  Literary Genius By Kurt Johnson and Steve CoatesThe Ardent Collector  (Donald Smith, Washington Post Book World)
    -ESSAY: The Year of 'Lolita'  (Brian Boyd, NY Times Book Review)
    -ESSAY: "Lolita," My Mother-in-Law, the Marquis de Sade, and Larry Flynt: Reflections on art, pornography, and censorship, after the taboos have all been smashed (Norman Podhoretz, Commentary)
    -ESSAY:  PERSONAL BEST: Lolita   (MARY ELIZABETH WILLIAMS, Salon)
    -ESSAY: PERSONAL BEST: Lolita (AMY TAN, Salon)
    -ESSAY: Vladimir Nabokov: A personal centenary salute (John Yewell, MetroActive)
    -ESSAY: F.W. Dupee: Nabokov: the Prose and Poetry of It All, NY Review of Books

Comments:

Nabokov's language, literary ability, whatever you call it that makes you feel like his skills are equivalent to those of Michelangelo's as he paints the rooms that are characters and scenarios in this book using language skills that are incredible without even considering that he wrote this in English and English was not his native language. The content of the story, pedophilia, does little to detract from Nabokov's genius. Genius should be appreciated wherever it is found. This the best of the best. Definitely an A+.

- Alice

- Jul-13-2006, 01:24

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