Carlo's Reviews > Lolita

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
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's review
Aug 25, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: to-be-read-again, language, american-literature, literary-fiction

What's great about Nabokov's Lolita is that it tells you something about yourself; What's weird about it is that right after reading it, you want to read it again since you know that you are not the same person anymore. It is so sincere that its truth comes as a slap in the face, and I'm certain that it will be read as long as people are around.

Lolita is the story of Humbert Humbert, a European man obsessed with certain young teenage girls, whom he sees as having the aura of adult women. He secretly dubs them nymphets. He tries in vain to deal with his urges, but soon resigns to them which makes him and his story interesting. Most of the book is his account about his love story with a 12-year old American girl called Dolores Haze, to whom he secretly calls Lolita.

Nabokov, who undoubtedly is a master of English language, told after finishing his book that there is no purpose for it. But, I don't know what's his definition of "purpose". For me, the book has a purpose, and a very noble one: it is a daring attempt to bring the reader a step closer to the truth about himself and the people around him. With a captivating prose and fascinating imagination, Nabokov has written one of the most controversial books of the 20th century, and while considering this, one can't but recall the famous words of Oscar Wilde:

“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.”

Lolita is written in first person, and although I’m not a fan of it, its usage is very apt, which otherwise would have made the book a story about a mere pedophile. The first person recount plays an important role in shaping HH's character accurately in our minds, and perhaps kindling a bit of sympathy for him.

Lolita can easily be called great, and reading it was a unique experience. Both charming and clever, it will never cease to capture one's intellect and emotions.
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Reading Progress

August 25, 2010 – Shelved
September 18, 2011 – Started Reading
September 23, 2011 –
page 85
22.61% "The book is very promising, though it would've been more profound if HH wasn't suffering from a mild mental disorder."
September 24, 2011 –
page 168
44.68% "What a genius!"
September 25, 2011 – Shelved as: to-be-read-again
September 25, 2011 – Shelved as: language
September 25, 2011 – Shelved as: american-literature
September 25, 2011 – Finished Reading
November 3, 2011 – Shelved as: literary-fiction

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye Carlo, I hope you enjoy the reading experience.

Many of the Death Match crowd participated in the following Discussion Group:

I'm sure if you want to join and post any comments, some of us will respond.

Carlo Yes Ian, I'm enjoying it. I'm about halfway through and so far so good.

I'll join the group and see if I can follow a thread or two to have some good discussions.

Thanks :)

message 3: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye Part of the appeal of the novel for me is that it forces the reader to confront their own views about the subject matter.

Nobody seems to sit on the fence if they read it.

They either love it or hate it.

However, those who hate it seem to do so, because they hate the subject matter or Humbert's self-justification.

They are not prepared to countenance that Humbert might have been sincere.

They need to understand him as insincere and an "unreliable narrator".

BTW, I don't think it would be right to say that Humbert was obsessed with all young teenage girls.

There were only a few that he obsessed about during his life, and they all had a particular "knowingness", which might have been the adult peeking out from the eyes of the child.

Carlo Ian wrote: "BTW, I don't think it would be right to say that Humbert was obsessed with all young teenage girls."

Ahh, of course. I remember writing a line about his "nymphet" definition, but it seems I didn't include it. I take notes while reading and when finished, I compile the review based on the notes. I may have seemed that note. Your image of the nymphet is very apt.

I believe Lolita is a very personal book. You can know yourself a great deal by reading it. You ask yourself a lot of questions and choose your answers according to yourself. VN doesn't give any answer and that's the beauty of it as you said.

I remember while reading the book, I made countless notes about how HH was sincere and was indeed loving Lolita. I believe some people wouldn't note that (and they are not obliged to). It's a matter of personal perspective. It is indeed a great book.

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