Lolita Lolita discussion


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The book is dragging

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Fatin I'm on chapter 23 of Lolita, she's just escaped, and honestly, I've been pushing myself to get through this for quite a bit. I'm a fast reader, I don't usually put books down, even if they are bad books, and this is not a bad book. But I really really had to force myself through the scenery scenes earlier on, and now when he's describing all the little clues, his "brother" leaves for him, I do not understand a single reference and I just...I'm just annoyed.
The first half I love, I devoured. Now I'm slowly moving through, hoping it gets better.


Fatin I did have to put down the book in the middle as well, but that was because I honestly felt sick after reading all those...bedroom scenes. And kudos to Nabokov for having created that effect. I appreciated being affected enough to put the book down then, but this is because I can't enjoy this.


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

Sam I felt the same way when i first read it but i reread it a few weeks ago and flew through it without any difficulty. I added a fifth star after the second reading also, just stick with it and enjoy it while it lasts.


Robin I really don't know what all the fuss was all about. The film is quite good, but the book is lots of narration and personal insights into Humbert.


message 5: by Ray (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ray Campbell I am fascinated that we all had a similar feeling as the thrill of anticipation turns to realization and then becomes mundane. I thought the middle dragged, but it really did come together will a more than satisfying ending which wraps the book up nicely. Stay with it!


message 6: by J (new) - rated it 3 stars

J Agreed, the book was tough to get through.


Fatin Yes, I've just finished it, and the book livened up the second Lo was back!

Robin, I hadn't really mentioned the movie, but I prefer it. It's a piece of art.


message 8: by Sam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sam I watch the movie on DVD about ten minutes after finishing the book, i thought it was ok but nowhere near as good as i would have expected it to be. Should probably have waiting longer after finishing the book to watch it though because i basically knew what was going to happen before it happened. Made the same mistake with Crash also.


Fatin Which one did you watch? The black and white Kubrick version or the colored 97 version? Because the latter was terrible. The Kubrick one is basically an interpretation of the novel that concentrates more on his madness than the torrid "love affair." It also overplays Quilty's role. I love the Kubrick version.


message 10: by Sam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sam It was the Kubrick version.


Scott The Adrian Lyne film is superb. It's as close to the novel as you can get. Perfect casting as well.


Olivia Yes, I enjoyed the story but didn't enjoy reading the book. Took me forever.


Tyler The book was a tough read for me but when I finished I felt very accomplished. Not a bad read.


Readingmom I'm glad that you were able to finish the novel, Fatin!

It sounds like quite a few people had difficulty wading through Nabakov's prose. I, personally, spent about a month reading the novel (a considerable amount of time for me, before I had a child), but really taking the time to enjoy the novel.

I can see why reading an annotated edition, such as Brennan did, would be very helpful.

I never found the novel boring, though. I enjoyed every second of it - savoring the amazing writing, and feeling disgusted at the narrator's actions.

I have not seen Kubrick's movie adaptation, but will make sure to check it out, based on the comments in this thread! It is difficult, however, for me to imagine the movie being better than the novel.


message 15: by Feliks (last edited Feb 10, 2013 01:02PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Feliks Except when that movie has James Mason, Peter Sellers, Shelley Winters, Sue Lyon...and Stanly Kubrick directing. Kubrick didn't just make "any" movie..no matter what the source material is; its worth seeing when its adapted by him.

I frankly didn't much like the book even though I esteem it and I applaud the audacity of the concept. The content nor the ethics were not an issue for me at all. And I marveled at the well-drawn characters; the depth of Humbert's romantic dilemma; and the spot-on portrayal of American morals.

Nabokov just did some things--writerly things--technical tricks and stylistic flourishes which made me squirm. I couldn't take it seriously somewhere around 3/4th of the way through; and though I pressed on with it; he in no way became one of my favorite writers. He actually became one of my least favorites. I found him an untrustworthy craftsman. Respect his achievements, but don't much enjoy him.


message 16: by Cateline (new) - added it

Cateline I liked both films, for different reasons. My main gripe with the Kubrick version was the way Peter Sellers took over the role of Quilty, (and to my mind) mangling the character beyond recognition. Here is a wiki article examining the expansion of the Quilty role in the first film. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lolita_(...

I, personally, found Frank Langella's Quilty absolutely perfect.

Feliks wrote: I found him an untrustworthy craftsman. Respect his achievements, but don't much enjoy him.

Nabokov created, in my eyes, the perfect unreliable narrator in Humbert. That is part of the huge accomplishment of VN. He created a story with a completely selfish, and terrible person and made him sympathetic, to most readers. Unwillingly sympathetic. That is talent.


Feliks Frank Langella is first-rate, I'm with ya there. Always liked his talent.

As for Humbert: its not the unreliable narrator or how Nabokov handled that, none of which I found fault with. It was the unreliability of the author.


message 18: by Feliks (last edited Feb 10, 2013 01:26PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Feliks Technical choices that he put on display. Wording and phrasing; tone; meter. Imagery, descriptions; associations. His asides. Moderating his voice properly; keeping (failing to keep) consistency in style; trotting out too many fancy authorial tricks. He lost credibility with me whereas his story; characters; structure; and plot all did not. I think its a smashing tale. But I wouldn't go back to him for more fiction, without a very strong reason why.


message 19: by Cateline (new) - added it

Cateline By unreliable narrator, I meant Humbert. NOT Nabokov. :)

I don't believe Nabokov was "unreliable" a bit. I found his imagery to be both beautiful and poetic. I've read many of Nabokov's works and loved them all. He was what I'd call a painterly writer.

But to each his own kettle of fish. :)


message 20: by Feliks (last edited Feb 10, 2013 08:25PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Feliks Ehm, yah. Painterly and poetic. But he took too many liberties; I would have preferred a more sober-minded account considering the gravity of the subject. Its the very last sort of story you want to see a writer 'showing off his pyrotechnics'. :(

One of the few times I actually threw a book across a room.


Chris i first read the book when i was fifteen and revisit it every few years... for me its totally transformative, it works on so many levels...
the comments about the films here maybe make a statement about the inability of our current culture to grasp the abstract... we are rooted in the material... the Lyne film for me is awful; even though it adheres to the dialog it totally screws up the tone and to me the intent of the book, the Kubrick film in spite of its wandering has always been intimately connected to the book in a wonderful indirect manner, its an extension of the book rather than an interpretation


Keith Humbert is a wannabe poet and aesthete. An account without pyrotechnics would have been out of character. He's also trying to get you to like him, so a sober-minded account would also have been out of character.


Leslie Rollins This is a matter of personal taste. This is my favorite book ever — funny, awful, poetic. I relish the writing first and foremost. So many great passages: from adolescent eroticism on the Riviera; to the wonderfully awful Charlotte Haze; exquisite torment and dark humor at the Enchanted Hunters hotel; the journeys through post-war America, and the tragic too-late realizations of HH. I do have the annotated version to help with obscure references. And it's not an easy book by any means. I've had trouble with other Nabokov books. But I've read this one several times.


message 24: by Eric (last edited May 01, 2013 09:39AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Eric Flores I'm happy to know that I'm not the only who has been having trouble reading! Usually if I enjoy the book I could read it within a week or so, but I've been reading this book for a while and still only on chapter 25. When reading Lolita I really try to push on and read to the next chapter and so on, but I just get bored and can't focus. Hopefully it picks up soon, because I really want to know what happens next!


message 25: by Alec (new) - rated it 4 stars

Alec Fatin wrote: "I'm on chapter 23 of Lolita, she's just escaped, and honestly, I've been pushing myself to get through this for quite a bit. I'm a fast reader, I don't usually put books down, even if they are bad ..."


Hahah i totally understand you. I had the same experience, and its a shame really, because the topic it dealt with was quite a special and original one that should have overshadowed everything else instead of static descriptions and irrelevant details doing that. Oh well, it was the 60s :P


message 26: by Gracie (new)

Gracie Ok I never write comments on books ever but this one i didn't even want to finish I was soooo disgusted!!! The fact that a guy can actually come up with something so twisted and wrong on so many levels and the fact that he was so easily able to correctly portray a man like humbert is kind of worry some. I do not recommend this book it was waaaay too much for me


message 27: by Gary (last edited Jul 13, 2014 12:17PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Gary Foss Gracie wrote: "Ok I never write comments on books ever but this one i didn't even want to finish I was soooo disgusted!!! The fact that a guy can actually come up with something so twisted and wrong on so many levels and the fact that he was so easily able to correctly portray a man like humbert is kind of worry some."

Hi Gracie,

This is a kind of old, dead thread, but since you've chimed in, I figured I'd respond. It's funny: I'm having this same conversation with some folks on Goodreads about Heinlein, but I'm on the opposite side of the argument on that one. That is, the art's content versus the artist, and how much one is influenced by the other.

First, if your reaction is disgust, then I think that's perfectly valid, and I think you understood the content of the book in ways that a lot of folks miss. Second, if you didn't finish it because the subject matter is too much for your sensibilities then that's just as valid. That reaction is completely justified.

I would, however, argue with the idea that Nabokov's ability to portray a man like Humbert is worrisome. First, I don't think it was easy. He was just really talented. Nabokov's skill with the language is such that he makes it look easy, and that's actually a problem because a lot of people miss the content that you've recognized. They think it's a tragic love story, rather than the tale of a disgusting man abusing a young girl. It's an understandable mistake because Nabokov mastery as a writer is probably without parallel, but he wrote a very different novel than the one it is often interpreted as being.

The second issue is the concern about Nabokov himself. In the conversation about Heinlein, many folks will make the point that the art and the artist are two different things. Most recently, one person wrote that "People need to remember the distinction between an author being sexist and a CHARACTER being sexist."

I think that's absolutely a true statement in many, if not most, cases. It's true for Nabokov. (Heinlein often uses characters as little more than aspects of his own personality.) Nabokov was an extraordinarily skilled writer. So, again, the distinction between the art and the artist is often obscured by that skill. However, I'm confident that reaction is provoked by Nabokov's mastery, not his own character.

In any case, if this Lolita contains subject matter that is too unpleasant to get through, I'd suggest picking up something else by Nabokov. His writing is extraordinary, and once you get more familiar with his skill, you might be able to read Lolita for its prose. If not, though, I don't think having trouble reading the book for its content is at all a reflection on your character any more than writing it is on Nabokov's.

Best.


Ruby~am I a part of the cure? I agree with you, Gary. I thought it was amazing how he could portray Humbert as a character that I could even feel sympathetic for at times, despite his actions.


Fatin Well, I never felt sympathetic towards Humbert because my mind never, ever forgot that he was a rapist, that too of a child whom he was supposed to be a father to. I could never forgive him and the hatred I felt for him, I don't think a lot of fictional characters come close to it. But yes, I agree that it was a very well done book and doesn't really translate to Nabokov being a pervert himself.


Wandahost Fatin wrote: "I did have to put down the book in the middle as well, but that was because I honestly felt sick after reading all those...bedroom scenes. And kudos to Nabokov for having created that effect. I app..."

I agree with you 100&.Nabokov nailed it,I felt so disgusted with Humbert,and I never felt sympathetic towards him,at all.And I was glad that Lo reconized that Humbert ruined her life.The book is well written,but I'm not going to re-read it.
If you're going to watch the movie,I highly recommend the Kubrick version from 1962.


Fatin I love the Kubrick movie more than the book, Wandahost!


Ruby~am I a part of the cure? I'll probably have to read it again to see how I really feel about it!


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