Keleigh's Reviews > The Annotated Lolita: Revised and Updated

The Annotated Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
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Jan 15, 09

bookshelves: yearnings
Read in January, 2009

Lolita is as amazing as everyone claimed it to be: erudite yet playful, tongue-in-cheek, linguistically acrobatic, bold and sensual, disturbing and lovely. I had my moments of lambasting Nabokov for fits of elitist pretension, but even those were part of the overall charm. That said, I am somewhat regretful that my first read was filtered through the "cheat sheet" guide of the Annotated version. Sure, it was handy having translations of the French bits readily available, and I loved getting a taste of the intricacy of Nabokov's endless layers of allegory, symbolism and wordplay...but at heart, 'Lolita' is a mystery novel, and the annotations totally killed the mystery for me. Dead and gone within the first third of the novel. Right through the heart. I didn't even have a chance to speculate.

So my recommendation is, give yourself a chance to ingest 'Lolita' whole and complete, undistilled, in its original form; then go back and mess around with the Annotated version. Nabokov's prose, once you get over the hurdles of intimidation, is pure delight. And he speaks plenty of truth too.
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Anthony Nabokov has my heart above all other authors. Lolita is by far one of the greatest works of the 20th century. This annotated version is sometimes great to read and other times it gets in the way of the reading. I would say if you have not read Lolita yet, read the non-annotated version first and just bath in the atmosphere that Nabokov creates. Then come back to this to catch all the small references that Nabokov uses to create various scenes. Many are personal to Nabokov and/or his characters and not knowing this rarely takes away from the book itself.


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