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Lolita [Paperback]

Vladimir Nabokov
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (381 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 13 1989 9582701048 978-0679723165 Reissue
Awe and exhiliration--along with heartbreak and mordant wit--abound in Lolita, Nabokov's most famous and controversial novel, which tells the story 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. Most of all, it is a meditation on love--love as outrage and hallucination, madness and transformation.

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From Amazon

Despite its lascivious reputation, the pleasures of Lolita are as much intellectual as erogenous. It is a love story with the power to raise both chuckles and eyebrows. Humbert Humbert is a European intellectual adrift in America, haunted by memories of a lost adolescent love. When he meets his ideal nymphet in the shape of 12-year-old Dolores Haze, he constructs an elaborate plot to seduce her, but first he must get rid of her mother. In spite of his diabolical wit, reality proves to be more slippery than Humbert's feverish fantasies, and Lolita refuses to conform to his image of the perfect lover.

Playfully perverse in form as well as content, riddled with puns and literary allusions, Nabokov's 1955 novel is a hymn to the Russian-born author's delight in his adopted language. Indeed, readers who want to probe all of its allusive nooks and crannies will need to consult the annotated edition. Lolita is undoubtedly, brazenly erotic, but the eroticism springs less from the "frail honey-hued shoulders ... the silky supple bare back" of little Lo than it does from the wantonly gorgeous prose that Humbert uses to recount his forbidden passion:

She was musical and apple-sweet ... Lola the bobby-soxer, devouring her immemorial fruit, singing through its juice ... and every movement she made, every shuffle and ripple, helped me to conceal and to improve the secret system of tactile correspondence between beast and beauty--between my gagged, bursting beast and the beauty of her dimpled body in its innocent cotton frock.
Much has been made of Lolita as metaphor, perhaps because the love affair at its heart is so troubling. Humbert represents the formal, educated Old World of Europe, while Lolita is America: ripening, beautiful, but not too bright and a little vulgar. Nabokov delights in exploring the intercourse between these cultures, and the passages where Humbert describes the suburbs and strip malls and motels of postwar America are filled with both attraction and repulsion, "those restaurants where the holy spirit of Huncan Dines had descended upon the cute paper napkins and cottage-cheese-crested salads." Yet however tempting the novel's symbolism may be, its chief delight--and power--lies in the character of Humbert Humbert. He, at least as he tells it, is no seedy skulker, no twisted destroyer of innocence. Instead, Nabokov's celebrated mouthpiece is erudite and witty, even at his most depraved. Humbert can't help it--linguistic jouissance is as important to him as the satisfaction of his arrested libido. --Simon Leake

From Library Journal

This unabridged edition of Nabokov's classic story about a middle-aged, expatriate European man's obsessive love for a 12-year-old girl?which is being released to coincide with director Adrian Lyne's new film version?is a beautifully produced recording that pushes the boundaries of the audio medium. While Lolita continues to raise the hackles of would-be censors even today, most listeners will marvel at the restraint and playful humor with which Nabokov limns his tale. Narrator Jeremy Irons, who plays Humbert Humbert in Lyne's film, is an uncompromising audiobook reader whose performances on cassette are as laudatory as his Academy AwardR-winning work on the silver screen. This landmark release is highly recommended for all library collections.?Mark Annichiarico, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant "Sinister Memoir"! Sept. 29 2003
"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta." With those famous opening lines, Nabokov begins a sordid tale told by Humbert Humbert, one of the most fascinating characters in all of American literature. Even many people who have never read this novel know the basic story here since the word "Lolita" has become a part of American culture in that that someone with a "Lolita complex" is attracted to very young girls.
Published in 1955, this novel caused a storm of controversy; it is still provocative today even though there is not a four letter word in it. That is not to say that the book is not extremely erotic in many places. What Nabokov does with words is brilliant. As always he plays constant word games with the reader. Someone goes on a "honeymonsoon" to India. In seaching for Dolores aka Lolita and her run-away suitor, Humbert finds the name "Will Brown, Dolores, Colo." in a hotel register. Humbert and Dolores have breakfast in the "township of Soda, pop. 1001." There are allusions to Poe ("in a kingdom by the sea") and other writers throughout the book. You skim paragraphs at your peril.
The book is wondrously satiric. Nabokov captures the vapidness of the motels in small and middle America in the 40's and 50's with great brilliance. Humbert, with all his perversions, is often a terribly funny character as well. The scene where he wrestles with Quilty comes to mind. "We rolled all over the floor, in each other's arms, like two huge helpless children. He was naked and goatish under his robe, and I felt suffocated as he rolled over me. I rolled over him. We rolled over me. They rolled over him. We rolled over us.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nabavoks disturbing masterpeice June 13 2004
By Kerri
This is unarguably a one-of-a-kind book. It's a difficult read, the language and prose is gorgeous, but can get a bit mundane. In a sense, it is a love story...but Humbert does not actually love Lolita herself, but he loves her for the fact that she resembles his lost childhood love. He never gets to know the REAL inside Lolita, he constantly talks about her nubile and pubescent beauty. He speaks of how she tortures him, but she is just a young girl. Humbert morally corrupts the girl to the point where she sleeps with other men and becomes involved with child pornography. This is the kind of book that weeks after finishing it, you continue to cotemplate it. What makes it readable, despite the distrubing concept, is that Nabavok adds humor, but all of the humor is dark and eerie.
It is a wonderful book, but it's definatly not meant to be read by everyone
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unabashed wordplay masterpiece Feb. 17 2004
Nabokov: the master of whatever.
I feel a bit like a sham writing a review for this, but 360 other readers can't be wrong, right? True, there is not much that I can add to the substantial literature available on Lolita, or the volumes of Vladdy in general. But I can say a few things about what I liked about the book, sprinkled here and there with some minor criticisms, mostly based on personal biases.
First, Nabokov is as much a master of the English language as anyone before or after, as far as I can tell. Lolita could be read at many different speeds. You could speed-read it, I suppose, if you have cultivated that ability, but you would only get the outline of the story, which is a good one, to be sure, but you'd miss some of the finer details - the nuances of word play (there must be fifty examples of themes based on the words "Dolores" and "Haze" - I became a bit obsessive-compulsive after finishing the book - no doubt because of the contagious neuroses of Humbert Humbert - and spent twenty minutes trying to decide if Nabokov, in the afterward (in my edition, there is a six or seven page note written by V.N. a year or two after publication), was teasing the reader with the use of the word "daze" - a final amalgamation of an ongoing thread?); references to Joyce, (thanks Adan) among others; allusions to cultural confrontations, including the confused traditionalism of Europe having to reconcile itself with the nothingness/everythingness of America; and examples of self-reflexivity that would make Brecht blush. You could spend a year reading this book (another type of Joycian reference - or homage, perhaps), analyzing it sentence by sentence, seeing if there is something within the microcosm of the page that reflects the universe of the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I read it every other six months. July 31 2003
When I was recommended this book, I was intimidated by the " erotic, incestual theme" ( I have a great dislike and annoyance of raunchiness. Everyone thinks something is wrong because I never laughed watching American Pie and during Junior High sex- ed) and almost didn't bother picking it up. For the past few months, I read nothing but Kurt Vonnegut and was begining to think this would be a bore. However despite the bad reviews, I loved the book. Many people complain over it's " vulgar, disturbing" content but Nabokov never did really say on account what he did with Lolita. He was very metaphoric with his descriptions of the characters created; in my opinion, I think he intended on not telling what Humbert did because he knew that the reader will imagine will most likely be worst than what actually really did occur.

I must warn readers who are planning on reading Lolita: have patience ( It takes time before he mentions the plot and the first 80 something pages are talking about his past life in Europe. ), keep a dictionary handy if you are vocabulary challenged, and don't be so held up with the theme.
In shorter terms, I love the book. I, at first, would have gaven it three stars but I just kept coming back to it more intrigued every time I read it. By the way, I don't think anyone really mentioned this but it's a funny book when you think about. There were many times, I was laughing out loud in my study hall class because of Humbert's annoyance but devout love for Lolita.
Heather ( Grade 9)
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing story
I truly thought this story was true when I first read it, I was a little disappointed when I realized it was not, however it was still an engaging story. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Meagz
4.0 out of 5 stars Nabokov's Literary Spectacle
This novel is many things. It is wonderfully beautiful, it is beautifully entrancing, it is entrancingly seductive, it is seductively horrific, it is horrifically sublime. Read more
Published 4 months ago by AP
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, Horrible
Well, it’s a classic, much discussed, much admired, but I’ll add my two pennies. Wonderful writing; stellar stylistically, each paragraph a work of art. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Troy Parfitt
5.0 out of 5 stars The buds of youth.
A book that, had it been written by somebody else, would have been a lecherous persons kiddy porn handbook. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Andy Vogt
5.0 out of 5 stars AMAZING
The book was a good price, it came promptly in good condition and it was a fantastic read! Would recommend to anyone who enjoys to read!
Published 15 months ago by Jessica
2.0 out of 5 stars I was bored
The beginning of the book was interesting, but I was incredibly bored for the remaining three quarters. I'm not sure why this book is so highly rated.
Published 16 months ago by not a fan
4.0 out of 5 stars Lolita: Like it isn't the most apt term to use,
This isn't an easy book to read, especially the first half: how does a reader identify with what in esse3nce is a child molester? Read more
Published 18 months ago by Anthony Dayton
5.0 out of 5 stars Authentic Work of Art
Compels our immediate response and serious reflection-a revealing and indispensable comedy of horrors. Intensely lyrical and wildly funny. Read more
Published 19 months ago by potato_bug1001
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting topic and style but too hyped
I've made it my mission to read a majority of the classic novels that are must-reads and Lolita being #4, I was pleased when I had to read it for a course. Read more
Published on March 26 2011 by Manley H
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Fiction
More than a little disturbing as Nabokov takes us into the mind of a paedophile. Not overly graphic and somewhat romanticized. Definitely part of a good grounding in literature. Read more
Published on March 20 2011 by Diana B.
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