The Annotated Lolita (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – Mar 1 2010
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Shakespeare's Juliet was 13-years-old, but Nabokov's Lolita was 12. The so-called "shocking" and "perverse" nature of the sexuality that Nabokov explores is lost if the nymphet is a sexually mature teenager. Incidentally, by the time they are wheeling across the country, Lolita apparently gains sexually maturity, as evidenced from the first sentence of Chapter 33, Part One which reads: "In the gay town of Lepingville I bought her four books of comics, a box of candy, a box of sanitary pads...."
Humbert's sexuality is actually a strategy in the evolutionary game. Instead of waiting until the female is sexually mature, the Humbert Humberts of the world pre-select their little darlings so that they are already in position, so to speak, when she reaches sexual maturity. Society, of course, cannot buy this. Its abhorrence is but one of the myriad taboos it concocts to protect itself from the evolutionary mechanism, a mechanism that cares not at all what society thinks, thumbing its nose, so to speak, at all societies and their ephemeral prejudices.
Among the most chilling sentences in the novel are these at the end of Part One after Lolita learns that her mother is dead. Humbert narrates: "At the hotel we had separate rooms, but in the middle of the night she came sobbing into mine, and we made it up very gently. You see, she had absolutely nowhere else to go."
Also chilling is this from Lolita (half in jest, half in bitter revelation) the morning after their first night together: "You chump...You revolting creature. I was a daisy-fresh girl, and look what you've done to me. I ought to call the police and tell them you raped me. Oh, you dirty, dirty old man.Read more ›
As for the storyline, I was swept away by the gentleness of Humbert and his emotions. I truely connected with him. I felt his sorrow, his pain and his happiness. I connected with Lolita, with her innocence and lack there of, and how she felt. I connected with Clare Quilty in a way I never thought I would have. I felt hatred towards the characters, sympathy towards them. Everything you should feel in novels.
As for the descriptions. Well, Nabokov does go a wee bit overboard with them. However, as in the rule set by Poe - "Every single line in the story must lead up to a single effect," and Nabokov does a hell of good job doing it. All of those descriptions forshadow something.
"Lolita" is full of culture, also. It describes settings perfectly with the era. From Lo's clothes to her music, from the magazines she reads to the way the family life is, you can perfectly imagine just what time period it is historically as well as personally.
The book is extremely difficult, some pages and paragraphs have to be read two or three times in order to fully absorb their content. Sometimes I even found it difficult not to skim through things, but i'm glad I did not.
If you are going to read "Lolita," read it because you want to, not because it's considered a classic. If you read it, take it in, take your time.. absorb Nabokov's words. You will not be regretful.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Lolita, Lolita, Lolita. A great book, no need to say more about it. This edition is just great for the literary student or the reader that wants to see what's under the hood of... Read morePublished on Nov. 9 2012 by Jean-philip Ricard
It sounds to me like you only read the book because it's 'deemed a classic.' In your sluggish effort to simply finish the book so you could say you read it, you missed some large... Read morePublished on April 14 2004
(Please keep in mind that I gave this book two stars compared to other books considered classics - I'm not saying it's as good as Al Franken's book, which I gave three stars. Read morePublished on Feb. 10 2004 by Zach Everson
I had heard of 'Lolita' as being a classic for so long, and finally I got to reading it. I now know why it's considered so highly. Read morePublished on Jan. 24 2004 by Chris
I've owned this book for about 10 years (but bought from a mall bookstore). I have a dozen or so "post-its" marking certain parts I like to read over again. Read morePublished on Dec 11 2003
When I was a young man and first encountered Lolita I was pleasantly taken with the audacity of the good Professor Vladimir Nabokov's intent. Read morePublished on June 26 2003 by Dennis Littrell
Several correspondents responded to my comments on Nabokov's Pale Fire by suggesting that I read his most famous novel, Lolita. Read morePublished on Feb. 22 2003 by Glen Engel Cox
Perhaps appalling is too strong a word. In fact it quite clearly is. But that's what I felt whenever I had just put the book down. Read morePublished on Aug. 6 2002 by Jeff Laing