Elise (TheBookishActress)'s Reviews > Lolita

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
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You see, she had absolutely nowhere else to go.

This is a book I kind of hated and kind of loved, and when I first started writing this review, I did not know how to evaluate it. So I went through the reviews, and I realized what I wanted to say: it honestly amazes me that anyone is able to read this as a romance.

It's quite clear that this is not meant to be a romance. even ignoring that it's quite literally about a twelve year old and a thirty-seven year old, it is made SO clear that he knows he's taking advantage of her situation and simply doesn't care?

And it is for this reason I enjoyed Lolita. I think the reason I enjoyed - or maybe appreciated - this so much was I never thought the narrative was romanticizing what was going on; it was more like an acknowledgement, a book of horror meant to draw its eye.

It’s a masterful use of unreliable narrator, and here - unlike in a lot of other books that recieve praise for unreliable narrator - Nabokov makes his use of this device textual. Lola’s behavior is, at its peak, the behavior of a rebellious twelve-year-old, not the behavior of the seductive, uncaring Lolita Humbert wants us to believe her to be.

He has this strange pride in himself and this strange analysis of his idea, and of his pathologic ability to justify his illness; he’s replaying this episode of his childhood, in which he had consexual sex with a girl his age, as if it justifies his later preying upon Lola. He claims that she seduced him when she has not, when her behavior, though inappropriate, is essentially the behavior of an unaware twelve-year-old wanting someone in the world. And in places, his deeper mind peaks through: in the quote at the top of this page, elsewhere, when he criticizes Caroline for her hatred for her daughter, her jealousy of her daughter, her resentment. When he acknowledges Lola is only going along with his actions, to prove how grown-up she is, to prove that she wasn't lying about her sexual experience.

Perhaps the only thing I sort of didn't was the ending, which I found kind of... ridiculous. I would love to read a retelling of this in which in the end, Lola kills Humbert.

TW: pedophilia and sexual assault.
dangerous ideas: book 4
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Quotes Elise Liked

Vladimir Nabokov
“Oh, don't cry, I'm so sorry I cheated so much, but that's the way things are.”
Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita


Reading Progress

October 22, 2018 – Started Reading
October 22, 2018 – Shelved
October 27, 2018 –
page 115
36.28% "i love being ahead on class reading"
November 26, 2018 –
page 180
56.78% ",,,,, it honestly amazes me that anyone is able to read this as a romance. it's so clearly not meant to be? even ignoring that it's quite literally about a twelve year old and a thirty-seven year old, it is made SO clear that he knows he's taking advantage of her situation and simply doesn't care?"
November 29, 2018 – Shelved as: genre-literary-nonfic
November 29, 2018 – Shelved as: 5-star
November 29, 2018 – Shelved as: released-2000-pre
November 29, 2018 – Shelved as: read-2018
November 29, 2018 – Shelved as: faves-of-2018
November 29, 2018 – Shelved as: hype-hype-hype
November 29, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-29 of 29 (29 new)

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message 1: by Suanne (new)

Suanne Laqueur I've read so many books like that. "I hate this. I feel filthy reading this. I'm glad I picked it up."


message 2: by Laura (new)

Laura McNeill It's so disturbing. Have to agree with Suanne, too. It's hard to stomach.


message 3: by Madi (new) - added it

Madi is this a good or bad review i can't tell


Elise (TheBookishActress) Madi wrote: "is this a good or bad review i can't tell"

i think it's good but fuck knows honestly madi


HeartlessFaeKing 🔮 There are some ppl who reads this as a "romance"? 😨 For Odin's sake...that's so screwed up.


Elise (TheBookishActress) HeartlessFaeKing wrote: "There are some ppl who reads this as a "romance"? 😨 For Odin's sake...that's so screwed up."

it honestly ? is so terrifying to me


message 7: by Shayla K. (new)

Shayla K. I was actually talking about this earlier. It was never meant to be a romance and i get so squicked out when people tag it as romance on tumblr.


Elise (TheBookishActress) Shayla K. wrote: "I was actually talking about this earlier. It was never meant to be a romance and i get so squicked out when people tag it as romance on tumblr."

yes, big mood !!! it's so terrifying to me.


message 9: by Zofia (new) - added it

Zofia I bought this book some time ago, but I don't know when I'm going to read it... I'm really interested because of what I've heard about Nabokov's style, but I don't think I'll ever be in mood for a book about a pedophile 😶


Elise (TheBookishActress) @Zofia valid honestly haha


message 11: by Kelly (new)

Kelly price i came across the movie once and its honestly the creepiest thing I've ever seen, so I'm interested to see how this sways people opinions so much. great review!


Elise (TheBookishActress) @Kelly this is such a wild book and I have no idea how to quantify it but wow. it’s certainly creepy.


message 13: by Malobee (new) - added it

Malobee Silvertongue I think for me a bunch of dudes in my literature program in university ruined this book for me. In my experience many me hold this up in a completely weird and creepily idolized way, and in fact romanticize the content. I don't actually appreciate this book very much in the first place, so that just disgusted me beyond ever being able to look at the text again.


Nocturnalux I also gave this a 5 star review and I cannot see how anyone can view this a love story either.


Elise (TheBookishActress) Malobee wrote: "I think for me a bunch of dudes in my literature program in university ruined this book for me. In my experience many me hold this up in a completely weird and creepily idolized way, and in fact ro..."

yeah, i can understand that. i haven't had much of that in class which is good!!

Nocturnalux wrote: "I also gave this a 5 star review and I cannot see how anyone can view this a love story either."

it's SO CONFUSING!! I actually really appreciated it but I can't understand that reading at all.


message 16: by Corinne (new) - added it

Corinne I’m glad to hear that the predatory behavior is framed so that the author is clearly not endorsing it... I’ve had this checked out from the library but have been hesitant to read a creepy book by a white dude about pedophilia. Maybe I’ll go ahead and pick it up now!


Elise (TheBookishActress) Corinne wrote: "I’m glad to hear that the predatory behavior is framed so that the author is clearly not endorsing it... I’ve had this checked out from the library but have been hesitant to read a creepy book by a..."

i mean, it's not explicitly Decried on page, but it reads with pretty obvious intent to me, tbh?


Cait the Bookish Bansídhe I have been putting off reading Lolita for many years because I was never sure how the author was portraying the relationship. Thank you so much for this review!


Elise (TheBookishActress) Cait the Bookish Bansídhe wrote: "I have been putting off reading Lolita for many years because I was never sure how the author was portraying the relationship. Thank you so much for this review!"

of course, Cait! it's really odd to me that this isn't a mainstream reading - it really felt like pretty clear narrative intent to me? I hope you enjoy / appreciate / whatever you can do with this book :/


message 20: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa great review! I've been meaning to read this for awhile now. even though i haven't read it, it always weirded me out how this was so romanticized. loved your insight!


Elise (TheBookishActress) V.W. wrote: "great review! I've been meaning to read this for awhile now. even though i haven't read it, it always weirded me out how this was so romanticized. loved your insight!"

of course, VW! thank you <3


message 22: by Mary (new)

Mary Pagones I need to reread Lolita. I first read it when I was 14, not much older than Dolores Haze herself, and reread it when I was in college in its entirety, At the time, I zealously defended it on the grounds that it was a literary exercise (as well as free speech). I've only reread parts of it since. I have more ambivalent feelings about the extent to which Nabokov glorifies what he portrays, much as he denies it, and after reading some of his criticism, in which he outright states he's prejudiced against women writers, my ambivalence has grown on the party line that it's a condemnation of Humbert Humbert. Thank you for your thoughtful review, it's a reminder that I need to revisit this before I can come to a final verdict.


message 23: by Mary (new)

Mary Pagones Kelly wrote: "i came across the movie once and its honestly the creepiest thing I've ever seen, so I'm interested to see how this sways people opinions so much. great review!"

The Kubrick film or the more recent Jeremy Irons film? The Kubrick film takes quite a few liberties, most notably making Lolita much, much older. I think it also started a trend in the 1950s for some of the fashions the actress wore in the film, like her sunglasses. The Irons film depicts her exactly as I pictured her when I read reading the book. And is far more disturbing as a result.


Celise Great review of a book that was definitely meant to be read critically!


Elise (TheBookishActress) Celise wrote: "Great review of a book that was definitely meant to be read critically!"

thank you, Celise <3


Elise (TheBookishActress) Mary wrote: "I need to reread Lolita. I first read it when I was 14, not much older than Dolores Haze herself, and reread it when I was in college in its entirety, At the time, I zealously defended it on the gr..."

hm, I hadn't heard that. it's very... odd, to me, the degree to which he refused to talk about intent.


Elise (TheBookishActress) Mary wrote: "Kelly wrote: "i came across the movie once and its honestly the creepiest thing I've ever seen, so I'm interested to see how this sways people opinions so much. great review!"

The Kubrick film or ..."


I know this wasn't to me but it's interesting - I've seen parts of both. I believe it was the censorship that made the first film so... the way it was, but it really changes the story. obviously he's still gross for preying on a freshman in high school, but she looks so old (she was 19 when filming according to wikipedia) that it's sort of... easy to forget? which it should not be.


MangoLoverReads What a Great Review!!! Nicely done. Nabokov’s writing is So masterful. Geez, I haven’t looked at this book in a long time....


Elise (TheBookishActress) MangoLoverReads wrote: "What a Great Review!!! Nicely done. Nabokov’s writing is So masterful. Geez, I haven’t looked at this book in a long time...."

thank you so much, Mango! his writing really is intoxicating.


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