Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Review of Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Vladimir Nabokov

Finished May 13, 2008

Description: 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.

This was the most disturbing book I have ever read. The story of an older man, Humbert Humbert's obsession and "love affair" with the 12 year old nymphet Dolores Haze. While the subject matter was grotesque the writing was beautiful. Nabokov first wrote Lolita in English which was not his native language (Russian). I have to admit that I actually laughed out loud in a few parts because of his sarcastic wit. When he asked, "why do these people guess so much and shave so little?"

This was the first book I have read for the 1% Challenge to read 10 books from 1001 Books to Read Before You Die. 1 down and 10 to go!


Maw Books said...

I've never heard of this one but it sounds fascinating. I think I'll bet looking into this one, thanks for the review.

Anonymous said...

Hi, found your blog on LT. I'm only just making my way around to everyone's blogs. I've only recently acquired "Lolita" and haven't had a chance to read it, but I've heard that the prose is amazing. I look forward to more of your reviews :)

My Journey Through Reading... said...

Thanks Natasha and Kbookreviews. Be forewarned that Lolita is very disturbing. If you can get past that the story is written beautifully and is actually funny in a few parts. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Lolita is one of my favorite novels. I'm not sure what that says about me, but it truly was beautiful, in spite of the subject matter. This is a book I pick up and read again every few years. It will be interesting to see how my reaction changes as my two daughters age...

Anonymous said...

I’ve also just added you to my LibraryThing Bloggers page. Drop by to make sure your name and link are correct

naida said...

I've wanted to read this one, but was kind of put off by the subject matter. I'm almost 'afraid' to read it.

enjoy your weekend.

Anonymous said...

I remember reading this back in high school or maybe college. Like you, I found the subject matter grotesque but the writing was so...well...seductive. It's not for everyone, but there is no denying it is a very well-written book. This is not like Basic Instinct or movies of that ilk.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read _Lolita_, but I have a copy of it on my bookshelf... just haven't gotten to it yet!
My references to the book are _Reading Lolita in Tehran_ which I loved! and the lyrics to the 1986 Police song Don't Stand So Close to Me (about a teacher infatuated with a student) ... in part:
"Just like the old man in
That book by Nabakov"
I'll get to the book someday!