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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant "Sinister Memoir"!
"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...
Published on Sept. 29 2003 by H. F. Corbin

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3.0 out of 5 stars Laborious Read
At a recent English language conference in St. Petersburg, a Russian woman asked an American poet after his reading what he thought of Nabokov. The poet was smart enough not to mention Lolita. I confessed to my colleagues that I had just read the novel. Three of them admitted that they had tried but could not venture far into the story. The "controversial masterpiece"...
Published on April 16 2002 by Maggie Berg


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant "Sinister Memoir"!, Sept. 29 2003
By 
H. F. Corbin "Foster Corbin" (ATLANTA, GA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Ce commentaire est de: Lolita (Hardcover)
"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."
We cannot forget, however, that Humbert is ultimately guilty of an ugly sin. In his own words he has deprived a "girl-child" of her childhood. In their cross-country journey, she cries every night. The picture is not pretty.
In an essay written in 1956 Nabokov writes about writing LOLITA. HE says that he is "neither a reader nor a writer of didactic fiction, and. . .. LOLITA has no moral in tow." He further denies the charge made by some readers that the novel is anti-American. Finally he says there are three subjects "utterly taboo as far as most American publishers are concerned." Obviously the theme of this novel is one. The other two, in Nabokov's words, are: "a Negro-White marriage which is a complete and glorious success resulting in lots of children and grandchildren; and the total atheist who lives a happy and useful life, and dies in his sleep at the age of 106." A most interesting observation. I wonder just how much has changed in 47 years.
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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 (Philadelphia, PA) - See all my reviews
Ce commentaire est de: Lolita (Paperback)
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
By 
Amazon Customer (San Francisco, CA United States) - See all my reviews
Ce commentaire est de: Lolita (Paperback)
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. But you don't need to get down to this level of detail to get a reward from this book - I think a steady, conscious reading can bring surprises on every page; this is how I read it, and it's what I'd recommend to most readers.
The question of whether H.H. truly loved Lolita - or whether he was simply in love with her ability to transport him to a nostalgic past - is an interesting one, but I don't know if there is a satisfying solution. It kinda depends on what your definition of "is" is. Is there any other kind of love than that which takes you somewhere happier?
Another obvious question is: Was H.H. a homosexual? There seems to be ample evidence of this, albeit mostly circumstantial. But his similarities to the undeniably gay Zemblan king in Pale Fire make me think that H.H. was a sort of prototype for Charles Kinbote. But, if this is the case, Kinbote's homosexuality could be just a variation on a theme of sexual deviancy.
As a contemporary reader, I find it difficult to create the character of Humbert Humbert in my mind. Or, better yet, I find it difficult to believe. He seems an impossible combination of old-world European (which has probably ceased to exist), ultra-literate intellectual, and pedophile, capable of superhuman acts of vice and destruction. One could argue that such a complex characterization makes him more real; but I think the better argument is that the surreal nature of Humbert Humbert makes a sharp and intentional literary contrast with the banal normalness of America. Lolita, the American girl, is the subject of a deranged and futile 19th-century European man's scrutiny.
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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
By 
Ce commentaire est de: Lolita (Paperback)
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most seductive bedtime story-teller ever..., March 5 2002
By 
"sophia2k" (Budapest Hungary) - See all my reviews
Ce commentaire est de: Lolita (Audio Cassette)
Reading 'Lolita' is a decisive moment in every reader's life. If it isn't for the controversial issue or the overwhelming narrative, then it's for the unique half-ironizing, half-desperate tone that Nabokov and nymphets will stay in our minds forever. As I see it, the book is no light meal; it has to ripen like fine wine in the reader's own dark vault.
Listening to Jeremy Irons' voice performance is about as decisive for the literary gourmet as the reading of the book. Quite simply, Irons has THE voice for the text as well as he has THE looks for a silver screen Humbert. This trained, sophisticated British voice with its alternating speed and tone irresistibly lures the listener into Humbert's secret world. Irons has amazing command of his text. The job's extremely difficult, given the sheer size and the draining complexity of the Nabokovian text; but Irons has the talent to show the taste of every single word, so that the plainest descriptive bit turns into textual pleasure. (He manages elegantly even with the French quotes; an additional delight!) Needless to say, pleasure peaks at the rare love moments Humbert and Lolita share. Forbidden passion vibrates in Irons' dark-chocolate voice that virtually melts along with Humbert's lonely ecstasies and despairs. Yes, it's mainly about pleasure - Irons delivers all the delight and harmony that Humbert never experienced. To put it briefly, this 12-hour voice performance is a pleasure you would not want to miss. So, buy and enjoy!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important to Know: This Book Is Comedic, Sept. 1 2001
Ce commentaire est de: Lolita (Paperback)
I should probably be better prepared before writing about an important piece of literature such as LOLITA, yet had to jump in to defend one of the most perfectly crafted books I've ever read. Of the readers who are APPALLED by the pedophilic (sp?) aspect of the story, I wonder if they realize that the novel is esentially a comedy. The book is loaded with humor, with the situation between Humbert and young Dolores satirizing several things. Mainly, (and just off the top of my head), the fact that Lolita is such an ordinary, bratty girl makes Humbert's overblown fascination seem funny. Not only is she the wrong age for him, she's so shallow and mundane that she doesn't seem worthy of worship. Doesn't this say something about pop culture, and about whatever your own sexual obsessions might be.....how the most ridiculous, ordinary things can reduce us to dithering idiots? In a broader sense, the book satirizes that whole genre of novels in which innocent American girls (such as DAISY MILLER) go overseas, only to end up being ruined by suave, continental men. In LOLITA, a sophisticated European comes to New England and is demolished by the girl next door. A girl in roller skates with scabs on her knees.
What makes the book haunting, though, is the dark sadness that runs beneath the situation. Because Humbert Humbert and Dolores Haze are so terribly mismatched, (their age just being part of it), they can never achieve true love. And even if Dolores could return the older man's affection, he'd stop loving her as she grew up. Yes, if the story were taken seriously, it would be disturbing. But who's taking it seriously? And what no review can convey is the quality of Nabokov's prose - - his sheer gift for the use of language. The words carry you like a river.
Incidentally, if you respond to Nabokov's tone, you might check out another book that made me think upon reading the first page, "God, this writer is a real craftsman." I AM MARY DUNNE by Brian Moore.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars (Review), April 6 2001
By 
Ce commentaire est de: Lolita (Paperback)
Sneaky, sneaky, wonderful book. The best parts -- the most revealing and most entertaining -- of Lolita are contained in parentheses, asides, oddments, lists, or clauses offset by dashes. So revelatory are these moments that one might be tempted to ignore the main narrative of this amazing book, but for the fact that every passage of any sort is a wonder. Some examples follow:
"I imagined Lo returning from camp -- brown, warm, drowsy, drugged -- and was ready to weep ...".
"A few more words about Mrs. Humbert while the going is good (a bad accident is to happen quite soon)"
"My very photogenic mother died in a freak accident (picnic, lightning) when I was three ..."
What this all actually reveals in some symbolic way I have no idea, but I have never seen such a full-scale use of the tools of language in a straightforward (non-Ulysses) book, and I love it. I have read exactly one other novel that comes close to being as entertaining and well-written: the uncelebrated Love Songs of the Tone-Deaf (pleasing, rewarding).
A postscript: you know, dear friends, that English wasn't even Nabokov's first language, do you not? (Good God, what absurd talent.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In response to the negative reviews, June 1 2004
By 
Ce commentaire est de: Lolita (Paperback)
Yes, the subject of Lolita is disturbing, I agree. But the reader is not meant to sympathize with him but rather see what a truly sick, irrational, obsessed man he is. We are seeing things from his view and although everything is justified to him, a reader of sane mind can see through this.
Yes, at times the writing can be irratic, or use French, or perhaps use "big" words but again, this is a view into a mad man's mind. Such writing only enhances the experience to make you feel as though you are reading a person's secret diary.
Brilliantly written, it almost hypnotizes you stirring every emotion within. My favorite thus far.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars unbelievable, July 13 2004
By 
E. Knights "penseur" (Providence, RI) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Ce commentaire est de: Lolita (Paperback)
Easily the most amazing book I have ever read. Nabokov's prose is of another world entirely. It would be a blessing if American authors could master the English language with such eloquence. This novel demands an intelligent audience (which is why readers who are closer to the illiterate end of the spectrum have rated this book poorly). If you thought Da Vinci Code was well-written, you do not deserve Nabokov. caveat lector, after having devoured this book, it is quite easy to fall into a state of disillusionment concerning all other available reading material.
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5.0 out of 5 stars just plain beautiful, May 19 2004
By 
Dr. Biped (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
Ce commentaire est de: Lolita (Paperback)
lolita is the most beautiful and touching novel i've ever read.
i generally come across 2 main problems that people have with it: 1) they find the subject of the book offensive or disgusting, and 2) they have trouble staying interested because of the slowish pace towards the end and copious descriptive passages, or because they cannot relate to the characters.
personally, i perceive neither of these problems in lolita. the first, i think, can be dismissed immediately: a serious reader should realize that the book in no way condones pedofilia or the relationship between humbert and his "nymphet." furthermore, lolita, though young, is by no means innocent; she manipulates humbert, and, it turns out, has had previous sexual experiences - in short, the story is not about a grown man corrupting an innocent child. moreover, the relationship between hum and lo is both tragic and beautiful, and though i am as disgusted as anyone by pedofilia, i found humberts lustful obsession with lolita to be the most touching and lyrically told love stories i have ever heard - all the more beautiful for its dark, cruel, and tragic nature. therefore, i find no moral qualm with the book, and have no sense of disgust when reading it.
as for the second complaint, i suppose it is a more subjective one, and therefore harder to argue against. i know that personally, i read through the book very quickly my first time, and was swept along from the first page to the last. the writing is consistantly gorgeous and helps draw you along (the descriptive passages are not at all tedious; they are extremely rich and enhance the story). i also found myself emathizing deeply with both humbert and lolita. i think that that is the key to defeating the second complaint: one must be willing to feel for the characters, to share in humbert's passion, to fall in love with lolita with him, to feel for her as she weeps in the night, to hate her as she tears humbert apart, to hate humbert as he tears her apart, above all to empathize with both. that does not mean you have to lust for a little girl like hum does, it just means you have to be willing to feel the strength of his lusting, loving passion, and you have to be willing to appreciate the beauty he sees in her.
if you read lolita estranged from the characters, i can see how it could get a little dull, though i think it would still have undeniably beautiful writing and endless layers of depth and complexity (the intricateness of the plot, the allusions, the psychological and emotional journey humbert undergoes, the questions of what love really is, what beauty is, how much of a victim lolita is, etc., etc., etc.). however, i would advise anyone thinking of reading lolita to do so with a willingness to see what we would normally see as disgusting as it is (ironically) portrayed: beautifully. feel for both characters as much as possible. dont forget the true nature of hum and lo's relationship, but dont be afraid to get lost in their ecstasies, sorrows, pains, and desires.
but however you plan on reading it, the most important thing is that you read it
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Lolita
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (Paperback - March 13 1989)
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