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Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
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Jun 08, 07

Recommended for: active readers and Latin enthusiasts

I read Lolita for the first time last May, sitting on a porch in West Philly all night long. I didn't mean to. I wanted to read enough to put me to sleep but I never got to that point.

I've said that it's not my favorite book, but it's the smartest one I've ever read. Humbert Humbert narrates and the problem with the movie-- I've only ever seen the second one with Jeremy Irons, though the first is on my list-- is that it's really only half the story. In the movie, he's just some hopeless romantic in love with who he thinks this girl is. The text, though, through its literary references and allegories and careful language, leaves the possibility open that Humbert is a compulsive liar and sociopath. Interestingly enough, he remains affable, developments aside.

It's beautifully written, though it runs a bit long when it oughtn't and runs a bit short when it oughtn't. Brush up on your foreign languages and pay special attention to character names.
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