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The Annotated Lolita (Penguin Modern Classics) [Paperback]

Vladimir Nabokov
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)

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Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. Read the first page
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still ahead of its time Sept. 18 2002
Some observations on this, one of the great novels of the twentieth century:
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lolita.. for the serious reader May 3 2004
By Lizzie
I, like I am aware many of you are, am a very picky reader. I need to be pulled in by a book and taken away by it. That is exactly what I found in Lolita, and haven't found since. Nabokov has set my standards extremely high with his prose writing style which in my mind can be compared to no one but Edgar Allen Poe himself.
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Second Time Through Dec 13 2001
By E. Ryan
This is my suggestion about reading 'Lolita' - the first time, delve into it without the benefit of annotations. Read an edition other than Appel's, or - if you're a stronger person than I am - simply ignore the numbers in the margin. Digest it for what it is, explore the story, create opinions and thoughts in your own mind. Even the most learned scholar will feel ignorant at times - Nabokov is, unquestionably, a genius of language and allusions - but I cannot stress enough how vital it is to read this book as an outsider. Allow a few months to go by. And then delve heartily into this annotated edition. The insights provided by Appel are gems, and makes an entirely new experience of the story. He's a passionate scholar and that is reflected in his careful detail, his concern with Nabokov's input, and his personal voice coming though the notes. Some of the notes hit you over the head, a few things seem glossed over, and his obsession with Nabokov's other works get slightly tedious to someone who isn't as dedicated to the author as Appel is. However, on the whole, the notes are absolutely precious and give a depth to the book that is continually lurking behind the surface during a first-time "ignorant" reading. I would have been horribly disappointed at the plot disclosures, as well as terribly confused at times, if I had read this version when I first read the book. But to the reader "in-the-know," Nabokov's genius shines through, as does his humor and sly cleverness that don't neccessarily pop out at first. The notes range from the purely practical (translations of the interspersed French phrases) to the explanatory (literary history is invoked at the most unlikelist of places) to the anecdotal (Nabokov's own musings, his expertise in entemology, etc). But take my advice - read it first without the notes, and then go back. You'll thank me!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Edition for Students or Enthusiastic Readers
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 more
Published 22 months ago by Jean-philip Ricard
5.0 out of 5 stars in response to "inferior story"
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 more
Published on April 14 2004
2.0 out of 5 stars A great technical novel, with an inferior story
(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 more
Published on Feb. 10 2004 by Zach Everson
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, Disturbing, Masterful, VERY Helpful Annotations
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 more
Published on Jan. 24 2004 by Chris Georgen
5.0 out of 5 stars They don't get better than this.
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 more
Published on Dec 11 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Best for a second reading
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 more
Published on June 26 2003 by Dennis Littrell
5.0 out of 5 stars The best way to understand this misunderstood classic
Several correspondents responded to my comments on Nabokov's Pale Fire by suggesting that I read his most famous novel, Lolita. Read more
Published on Feb. 22 2003 by Glen Engel Cox
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
Book took over a month to arrive and was in poor conditon
Published on Jan. 9 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars Alfred Appel's Annotations Are Appalling
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 more
Published on Aug. 6 2002 by Jeff Laing
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it.
"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins, my sin, my soul, my Lolita." If there's such a thing as a "top ten" for 20th century lit, this book easily makes... Read more
Published on Nov. 27 2001 by Chris Ward
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