Traveller’s review of Lolita > Likes and Comments

165 likes · 
Comments Showing 1-50 of 70 (70 new)    post a comment »

message 1: by Gary (new)

Gary  the Bookworm I've been living on the planet for 61 years and have read many excellent reviews of this: yours tops them all.


message 2: by Kris (new)

Kris A tour de force, Trav -- really well done.


message 3: by Lynne (new)

Lynne King My Traveller what a review!

However, I have mixed feelings about Lolita. I know I rated it 4 but I'm sure that if I reread it I would downgrade it. Don't know why...


message 4: by Richard (new)

Richard Derus A review for the ages. This is the pinnacle of novelhood for me; the review is worthy of it.


message 5: by Garima (new)

Garima This is brilliant, Trav. Definitely one of the best reviews of this book.


message 6: by Traveller (new)

Traveller Thank you so much, Gary and Kris, those comments mean infinitely much to me.

@ Lynne, I also wonder why you would! It's so very well written...


message 7: by Lynne (last edited Jul 28, 2013 07:26AM) (new)

Lynne King Traveller,

I'm changing. I used to read purely for pleasure. I would sail through the classics and whatever book that "took my fancy" and that would be it. I've changed in that I now look at the writing style, the structure, the author's thoughts and many other things. I analyze now whereas I never did in the past and I'm not too sure that's a good idea.

Books are there purely for pleasure surely? Not analysis. Perhaps I'm now losing something along the way?


message 8: by Traveller (new)

Traveller Wow, Richard, that is high praise indeed, thank you so much!

Thank you Christina and Garima as well - this book actually made me cry, and now y'all are making me feel misty-eyed all over again! :P


message 9: by Traveller (new)

Traveller Lynne wrote: "Traveller,

I'm changing. I used to read purely for pleasure. I would sail through the classics and whatever book that "took my fancy" and that would be it. I've changed in that I now look at th..."



..and yet, if books are well written and touch you deeply, surely they are deserving?

It is true, of course, that we all want something different from the books we read. :)


message 10: by Kalliope (new)

Kalliope Weldone, Trav. It looks like you really wanted to confront this book.

What I liked most is the emphasis you put on whether the narrator is reliable or not.


message 11: by Garima (new)

Garima Oh great! I thought I was the only one to get all emotional at the end of this book and I wondered how is it even possible? I think that's exactly where one important aspect of Nabokov's talent lies.


message 12: by Traveller (new)

Traveller Kalliope wrote: "Weldone, Trav. It looks like you really wanted to confront this book.

What I liked most is the emphasis you put on whether the narrator is reliable or not."


Yeah, this is a typical Modernist novel, with its metafictional focus and its very obviously unreliable narrator. I mean, those aspects are shoved right under your nose from the very start of the novel, so it sort of goes without saying that everything we see, has to be sifted through the lens of the 1st person narrator.

I guess I've sort of been trained a bit to watch carefully what such narrators say, and cynical me never expected the curved ball which Nabakov throws at you in the end.

I mean, usually these narrators start out being (relatively) good people and you gradually realize that they are bad, and this is actually how Lolita progresses for most of the novel, (though Humbert was pretty bad almost from the outset), so seeing the sudden maturation in the insight of the narrator was a surprise that threw me for a loop and made me all choked up...


message 13: by Traveller (new)

Traveller Garima wrote: "Oh great! I thought I was the only one to get all emotional at the end of this book and I wondered how is it even possible? I think that's exactly where one important aspect of Nabokov's talent lies."

Oh, yaye, Garima! Glad to hear we tend to have similar reactions. :)


message 14: by Paul (new)

Paul best review of Lolita I've ever read; well done!


message 15: by Kalliope (new)

Kalliope Traveller wrote: "Kalliope wrote: "Weldone, Trav. It looks like you really wanted to confront this book.

What I liked most is the emphasis you put on whether the narrator is reliable or not."

Yeah, this is a ty..."


I was trying to avoid reading this a second time but your review is making me rebell against my decision.


message 16: by David (new)

David Wow this review is really outstanding - very insightful and thorough! Excellent, excellent!


message 17: by Traveller (new)

Traveller Paul wrote: "best review of Lolita I've ever read; well done!"
Thank you so much for that high compliment, Paul!

Kalliope wrote: "I was trying to avoid reading this a second time but your review is making me rebell against my decision. ."
It is quite a harrowing experience, but also a rewarding one, I found!

David wrote: "Wow this review is really outstanding - very insightful and thorough! Excellent, excellent!"
Beams and curtsies: thank'ee kindly!


message 18: by Manny (new)

Manny This review makes me feel almost as uncomfortable as the book did. Nice work.


message 19: by Rakhi (new)

Rakhi Dalal This is a beauty,Trav! The most profound and the best review of the work I have ever come across!! Thanks for such a treat :)


message 20: by Traveller (new)

Traveller Manny wrote: "This review makes me feel almost as uncomfortable as the book did. Nice work."
So nice to see you popping in, Manny! That in itself is already a compliment. :)

Rakhi wrote: "This is a beauty,Trav! The most profound and the best review of the work I have ever come across!! Thanks for such a treat :)"
Thank you so much for those words, Rakhi! Much appreciated, and glad that you liked it!


message 21: by Michael (last edited Jul 28, 2013 11:23AM) (new)

Michael I am impressed, this makes me wish to rewrite my own review, which was originally in response to hearing Lolita the novel proclaimed as a love story. I am unable to find apparent irony as distancing effect from the story, indeed even after your review I am unable to allow unreliability of the narrator to ironize this evil. I retract from the work through philosophy, and though this might not be mature, considered, complex, response to the text- I do not have any interest in rereading the book to rewrite the review. I imagine this has to do with personal history, and certainly must agree with other commentators on the quality of your review.


message 22: by Dolors (new)

Dolors What an outstanding review Trav, this is simply brilliant. I'm afraid I read "Lolita" when I was far too young and opinionated and missed much of its underlying tinges about the complexity of human feelings, specially of desire. Lolita, subtly emerges as the Goddess (loved Botticelli's picture here, was it mentioned in the book? I can't remember), whereas Humbert becomes the pathetic, corrupted man whose tragedy relays not in his nymphet losing her childhood but in realizing he is in love with her. What can I say? Whoa. Fantastic.
I guess I should re-read this novel, your review has rekindled a long smothered flame and piqued my curiosity...


message 23: by Traveller (last edited Jul 28, 2013 12:36PM) (new)

Traveller Dolors wrote: "Lolita, subtly emerges as the Goddess (loved Botticelli's picture here, was it mentioned in the book? I can't remember), whereas Humbert becomes the pathetic, corrupted man whose tragedy relays not in his nymphet losing her childhood but in realizing he is in love with her. What can I say? Whoa. Fantastic...."

Thanks so much, Dolors, and you've got it absolutely spot on. I think that this was exactly what Nabokov wanted to convey- not just that, but the fact that Humbert finally realizes what he has done not only to another human being, but a human being whom he happens to love deeply; and this knowledge clearly (at least to some extent) unhinges his mind, which is where that last melodramatic scene at the mansion comes into play...

I think the surreal quality of those last scenes at the mansion mirrors the fact that Humbert's psyche is starting to disassociate itself from reality.

Dolors wrote: "Lolita, subtly emerges as the Goddess (loved Botticelli's picture here, was it mentioned in the book? I can't remember)..."
Yes, in the last scene between Humbert and Lolita, he likens Lolita's features to that of Boticelli's Venus.


message 24: by Traveller (last edited Jul 28, 2013 12:35PM) (new)

Traveller thegift wrote: "I am impressed, this makes me wish to rewrite my own review, which was originally in response to hearing Lolita the novel proclaimed as a love story. I am unable to find apparent irony as distancin..."

Thanks, thegift. I don't think that Nabokov actually wanted to excuse anything via the use of irony, but rather, it gives the work a darker almost absurd quality, and in addition, it emphasizes how deluded pedophiles tend to be in many of their thought processes, and how they tend to be in denial regarding the consequences of their actions.

Rather, I think the work shines, besides in pointing out the deluded course of a person like Humbert's thinking, the fact that the character Humbert could finally mature to a point of insight and character growth; that he could finally take responsibility for the damage he had done. (When he realizes that he had broken Lolita's life).


message 25: by Nenia (new)

Nenia Campbell Interesting review. I always thought Humbert was an unreliable narrator. His sexualization of Lolita, and attribution of sexual precociousness to her, always struck me as the "she was asking for it" defense rapists are so quick to use.


message 26: by Traveller (last edited Jul 28, 2013 01:01PM) (new)

Traveller Christina wrote: "Also I remember a scene in which he heard children playing:

"What I heard was but the melody of children at play, nothing but that, and so limpid was the air that within this vapor of blended voic..."


Yip! I think Lolita actually cured him of his hebephilia/pedophilia in the end, and the realization only dawned on him gradually, that now it was not young girls in general that he craved anymore, but a very specific girl, and more than that, the actual person whom that girl represented.

Even before Lo escaped, I found the following paragraph pretty poignant:
my Lolita remarked:

"You know, what's so dreadful about dying is that you are completely on your own";
and it struck me, as my automaton knees went up and down, that I simply did not know a thing about my darling's mind and that quite possibly, behind the awful juvenile clichés, there was in her a garden and a twilight, and a palace gate — dim and adorable regions which happened to be lucidly and absolutely forbidden to me, in my polluted rags and miserable convulsions; for I often noticed that living as we did, she and I, in a world of total evil, we would become strangely embarrassed whenever I tried to discuss something she and an older friend, she and a parent, she and a real healthy sweetheart, I and Annabel, Lolita and a sublime, purified, analyzed, deified Harold Haze, might have discussed —
an abstract idea, a painting, stippled Hopkins or shorn Baudelaire, God or Shakespeare, anything of genuine kind.



message 27: by Traveller (last edited Jul 28, 2013 01:28PM) (new)

Traveller Nenia wrote: "Interesting review. I always thought Humbert was an unreliable narrator. His sexualization of Lolita, and attribution of sexual precociousness to her, always struck me as the "she was asking for it..."

Oh yes, absolutely-- I think this was the whole point of making the POV of the novel a first-person narration.

It would have been much harder to show up Humbert's rationalizations had it not been a first person narration, and I think Nabokov is at pains even from the start of the novel, to show that we are dealing with a person who has psychological problems, which, in literature, tends to constitute one of the classic classes of unreliable narrator due to their often highly biased viewpoint and/or the distorted lens that they view the world with.

EDIT: Note also how Humbert sexualizes all young girls; he looks at them all through a sexual filter, and labels all the more attractive ones as nymphets, notwithstanding that many of these girls never show any flirtatious behaviour, in fact, I remember him mentioning a pair who actually ran away from him.


message 28: by s.penkevich (new)

s.penkevich Stunned. Simply stunning review, Traveller. I may have to borrow this to use as a lesson plan one day ha.


message 29: by David (new)

David Katzman interesting how he is described so ugly yet cast as handsome in the movies...James Mason and Jeremy Irons. That's Hollywood for you. Would undoubtedly get less "sympathy" if he was unattractive. I did not recall that bit. Thanks for another great review, Traveller!


message 30: by Traveller (last edited Jul 29, 2013 10:01AM) (new)

Traveller s.penkevich wrote: "Stunned. Simply stunning review, Traveller. I may have to borrow this to use as a lesson plan one day ha."

Thanks Penk! Though knowing you, and your abilities, you could do a pretty good lesson all by yourself.. ;D ...which makes your words all the more appreciated. :)

David wrote: "interesting how he is described so ugly yet cast as handsome in the movies...James Mason and Jeremy Irons. That's Hollywood for you. Would undoubtedly get less "sympathy" if he was unattractive. I ..."

Thanks David, well, you have to really pay attention to spot the bits about him being clumsily big and having beetle brows, and him resembling a simian, he he. That just didn't sound very attractive to me, but who knows, maybe it's supposed to be.

He also somewhere talks about his "glowering good looks"; I suppose that is all meant to indicate that he is sort of a dark, intense-looking person.

I guess one's initial impression of him when you start to read the book, is that he is indeed handsome, because he is forever pointing out how handsome and attractive he is, especially to adult women.

I suppose it depends on individual taste too, a lot of women do like "big" men.
Also, who knows how big big is ...? Big compared to what? :P But he definitely often calls himself 'big'... maybe big compared to Lo -- maybe that is supposed to emphasize their disparity in size?

But you know Hollywood- all the actors, especially in those days were attractive. I suppose James Mason fit the dark brooding look quite well. Jeremy Irons as well, except that Jeremy Irons doesn't really strike me as the gorilla type.


message 31: by Gary (new)

Gary  the Bookworm James Gandolfini would have been perfect. Casting Lolita is much more of a challenge. Sue Lyons was much too old.


message 32: by Traveller (last edited Jul 29, 2013 12:42PM) (new)

Traveller Ha, yes, The World According to Humbert, and then, in the mirror, what is really going on...

(A good one would be woman/girl looking at him adoringly, and in the mirror she is crying or giving him a scornful look...)


message 33: by Cecily (new)

Cecily Gary wrote: "Casting Lolita is much more of a challenge. Sue Lyons was much too old."

But casting a child (for that's what she would be) of the age in the book, would mean the film would probably never see the light of day.


message 34: by Cecily (last edited Jul 29, 2013 02:44PM) (new)

Cecily Christina wrote: "Know what would be cool? If HH was cast by a handsome debonair and at some point he's walking past a mirror and we saw what he really looks like (played by another actor who looks more brutish)."

Lolita meets Dorian Gray? Neat.


message 35: by Jocelyne (new)

Jocelyne Lebon Wow! How creative, Traveller. I am awed.


message 36: by knig (new)

knig So, I haven't read this novel, but I see I am goingto have to, pretty pronto. I wantedto ask: my impression was Humbert doesn't actually have sex with Lolita: from your review I gather he does? So its not just pervy fantasizing and a little petting but full blown intercourse? Wow, I'd have a little trouble with that.


message 37: by Des (new)

Des Mullin Fantastic Traveller, it's been a couple of years since I read the book and your review makes me want to reread it.


message 38: by Traveller (new)

Traveller Thank you, Jocelyne and Des!

Knig, remember De Sade? Have you read, for instance, his Justine? It's all couched in very polite, euphemistic terms, you know, not as explicit as modern-day erotica, but yeah, I can't see how for instance, "rape" could be interpreted as anything but full-blown intercourse.

Well, do make a plan and grab it and have a look, and then you'll see what I mean.


message 39: by Steve (new)

Steve After all the comments to confirm it, you must know by now that this is the best summary and analysis of Lolita ever. You should win some kind of award for this, Traveller. Seriously. Every word of your review was perfect! But Jesus H. Christ (note just the single H) that double-H guy is disturbing.


message 40: by Traveller (last edited Jul 31, 2013 12:44PM) (new)

Traveller Steve wrote: "After all the comments to confirm it, you must know by now that this is the best summary and analysis of Lolita ever. You should win some kind of award for this, Traveller. Seriously. Every word..."

Phew, now look how you've got me blushing, Steve...
*digs toe into sand*
Aww, shucks, thank you!'

Yes, he is very disturbing and creepy too, and creepiest of all is that he is almost beyond hating. Perhaps because there is a bit of Humbert (and possibly a bit of Lolita too) in all of us... Though I found myself shaking my head at him most of the time.


message 41: by Brian (new)

Brian This is by far the best, most elegantly written review of this novel I've read. A friend asked me the other day what I saw in this book that was so special - I'm going to send him the link to this review. You've stated it much better than I could ever hope to.

Brava!


message 42: by Traveller (new)

Traveller Thank you so much Brian! I feel honored by your comment. :)


message 43: by knig (new)

knig Trav, it was your review which spurred me finally to tackle this little book of sordidness, which I had put off due to the unappetizing subject matter. I think your review has nailed the main points. i'd only say the ending seemed, um, incongruous to me. The part where he realises he loves her, old as she is at the advanced age of 18. By splicing on this ending, its as if though Nabokov seeks some sort of redemption/justification for HH's vileness; gee, he isn't purely a nast paedo, it was true love all along, and as we all know love knows no boundaries, etc. etc. So I like to think at this point he is referring to platonic love: e.g. you can love someone and not be in love with them sort of thing. Otherwise we're saying a pedo can be 'cured' and I just don't believe that. I think sexual predisposition is nature over nurture, and sordid though paedophilia might appear, its no more curable than homosexuality or heterosexuality or beastiality or whatever.

A lot of people make the point that this book is not about paedophilia, albeit there is paedophilia in it, but about infatuation, obsession and control. To me, on reflection, that's like ignoring the elephant in the room, or saying its not an elephant, its a kangaroo or something. Paedophilia, like rape, is never really just about sex as the end result anyway: its firmly about control issues. HH seems to have little control over his own life : you pointed out yourself how McFate solves all his problems one way or another, so he seeks to find control through manipulating Lolita.


message 44: by Traveller (last edited Oct 01, 2013 09:02AM) (new)

Traveller knig wrote: "Trav, it was your review which spurred me finally to tackle this little book of sordidness, which I had put off due to the unappetizing subject matter. I think your review has nailed the main point..."

Of course Humbert seeks to control Lolita and of course that is bad, and of course he is a peadophile (how could he have made that little detail any the clearer?), and of course that is bad too ...but I prefer to be a bit less judgmental of people, both on the issue of demonizing them and on the issue of that humans can never change.

No, I don't think that Humbert was capable of loving anybody for the most part of the book, but I do think that he had a revelation when he went to see Lolita at her house at age 18. We all change, whether for better or for worse, and to me it is obvious that Humbert did, in fact, change. Heck, I've changed a LOT through the course of my life, and I've seen many people change.

Therefore, I must strongly disagree with your assessment that people can never gain insight into their own situations and/or change.

...and btw, I strongly disagree with those people who say that this book is not about paedophilia or rather, hebephilia. Over and over and over again HH drives home how he prefers the age group 9-14 year old girls, so there is no doubt that he is one.
It is also very clear for most of the novel that he callously uses Lolita, and the only reason for his obsession with her specifically, is simply because she was the only person in that age group available to him.

You and I definitely construe the ending differently though. I see worth in the fact that a severely broken human being gained insight into his own situation and actually moved on to feeling shame and guilt and most importantly of all, for taking responsibility for his crimes. All of this also leads to the dissolution of his personality, even as his perception of reality shifts.

I'm not sure if Nabokov actually pleads redemption for HH, but what he did manage to do, is to, right at the end, at least manage to elicit some sympathy in me for a creature who I had been seeing as a complete monster. Finally, at the very end, I could view HH as a deeply flawed, but human being.


message 45: by Jr (new)

Jr Bacdayan Wow! This is truly an outstanding review! Greatly thought out and brilliantly executed. Essentially every praise it got, it deserved. Amazing analysis and summary. I'll say it too, I'll say it again: This is probably the best Lolita review out here. Bravo!


message 46: by Traveller (new)

Traveller Oh, my goodness, Jr... you're making me blush quite deeply here.
Thank you for all that very high praise. I don't I feel I deserve it, but thank you very much!


message 47: by Praiz (new)

Praiz Sophyronja I don't know what it was about this review that made me want to 'READ MORE', but I am so glad that I did. I enjoyed your review almost as much as the book itself.


message 48: by Traveller (new)

Traveller Wow, that's actually very high praise, thank you Praiz. The novel really grabbed me and immersed me in a way that had me admiring Nabokov's narrative and literary powers. Not bad for a Russian writing in a second language, eh?


message 49: by Praiz (new)

Praiz Sophyronja Traveller wrote: "Wow, that's actually very high praise, thank you Praiz. The novel really grabbed me and immersed me in a way that had me admiring Nabokov's narrative and literary powers. Not bad for a Russian wr..."

Oh I couldn't agree more, It puts the rest of us to shame! You'd think a lifetime of communication and cussing in the language would suffice as reason enough for those of us in English Speaking countries, to actually write something as decent!


message 50: by Traveller (new)

Traveller Thank you, Samantha!


« previous 1
back to top