David's Reviews > Lolita

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
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's review
May 27, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: classics, fiction, yikes-what-a-sucky-childhood
Read from May 27 to June 24, 2011

Lolita is the story of the fall of Humbert Humbert, a dashing and brilliant pedophile who obsesses over, adopts, and enters into a doomed sexual relationship with a twelve year old girl named Dolores Haze (Lolita is a nickname). It follows their entire relationship, and in the process, chronicles his separation from reality and any sort of normal life.

Nabokov was trilingual. He wrote nine novels in Russian before Lolita, his first foray into English fiction. After reading the novel, that fact becomes absolutely awe-inspiring. The amount of wordplay and mastery of the language that he displays is remarkable, and he also achieved subtlety in the French statements that peppered the novel.

In addition to the beautiful use of language, Humbert is among the greatest protagonists I've ever read. His deluded brilliance makes him a fascinatingly unreliable narrator, dragging you along awestruck, horrified, and entertained. Humbert's (Nabokov's) utterly unique mind is what makes Lolita so entertaining, but what makes it remarkable is the reality of the passion in it. While I couldn't empathize with Humbert's pedophilia, the agony and shame of his feelings for Lolita were incredibly truthful.

My wife and I read this for our book club. Well, she couldn't get through it because she was too creeped out by Humbert. So maybe it's not for everyone, but it was really a stunningly beautiful novel, and if you don't mind feeling just a little unclean, I'd wholeheartedly recommend it.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Jen (new) - added it

Jen For starters, I love the idea that you and K are in a book club.

Secondly, this is one of those books I've been circling for years, trying to figure out if I want to read it because I want to read it or because it's considered a classic. Thanks for giving props to the language, that helps make it slightly less skeevy on the "I actually want to read this" side.

Christina (A Reader of Fictions) Jen, I read the first page of this at my friend's house and went from wanting to read it to really wanting to read it because the language was soooooo pretty.

David Yeah, it was crazy awesome. Also, if/when you guys read it, I'd recommend procuring a copy of the annotated version. A friend was telling me about it and I wished I'd read that version. It has the English translations of the French he uses, as well as explanations of the many allusions he makes. Seems like that'd be the way to go if you really want to appreciate his language to the fullest.

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