Eli's Reviews > Lolita

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
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Jun 30, 07

bookshelves: novels
Read in January, 2006

This book scared the living daylights out of me.

As everyone says - its gorgeously written. The language is so rich that it somehow spills over the sentences - there's more to them than you can easily ingest. The writing makes the whole thing a pleasure to read, and in a lot of ways puts Nabakov in control from the start - there isn't a lot of room to imagine motives since Nabakov explains so much. I should point out that were a lesser writer spend any time at all writing in a language I can't read, I may have been tempted to put the whole thing down, but that here, despite entire passages in French, it never crossed my mind to do anything but read on.

There is a recurring temptation to read this as a love story. Humbert Humbert is lovingly obsessed with Lolita. Since he's the narrator of the story, his passion is the lens through which everything is viewed. But Nabakov allows just enough of the unfiltered (fictional) reality through to make it pretty clear that this is a story about a frightened, terribly abused little hostage and her tormentor. The constant flips between seeing Humbert as unfortunately in love with the wrong person, and him as a monster sucking every bit of life out of his prisoner is what is so frightening. It begs the question - how much of reality could we all reconfigure to fit our obsession, or even our love?

The characters, at least Lolita and Humbert are brilliant and true. Lolita is deeply sympathetic, and at points, so is Humbert. The place of the book is everywhere in motion, and little pinpoints across the country are written about with confidence and clarity. The settings precisely frame the story.

There is enough disturbing erotisism that I felt a little strange reading it in broad public view, but it its certainly not explicit in any traditional sense.

Brilliant, complex and extraordinarily readable, this is a book of such force and depth, that it seemed to me nearly impossible to get the whole picture on a single reading. It is definitely one I will pick up again.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Jill I love the comment about feeling self conscious reading this book in public. I recall reading it on a flight and thinking the same.

Yes, my first inclination on stepping into the erotica was to reshelf the book but his writing draws you on.


Lori Song Yes. The comment about feeling strange reading this in public is so true! I was reading this at school but it was kind of weird because we are certain one of the teachers is a pedophile!


Shmuli Cohen I am one-third through and have just been woken from some perverse nightmare concerning an incarnation of HH and his desires. The text is emotive, language rich and thoroughly disturbing. I'm afraid now to close my eyes. It's more a fearful horror intrigue than a sexualised and seedy seduction. And Jeremy Irons voice! Get out! Get out of my head!


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