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Lolita: A Screenplay (Vintage International) Paperback – International Edition, August 26, 1997
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But I think we can doubt if he ever saw a traditional screenplay in his life, although he'd been an extra in some German films of the 1920s. THIS certainly doesn't look like a screenplay. It has passages squeezed into one or two flowery paragraphs that would have taken up two days of screen time.
But no matter how hard he tried, he seems to have been unable to suppress his gift for humor, irony, and originality. He has John Ray, Jr., Ph.D. introducing the story on the screen, referring to "This here manuscript." He's written himself into the screenplay as "that nut with the net over there." (His character makes gentle fun of the author.) And he leaves directions that play tricks with the camera and the editing, as if the entire enterprise were to be his own personal puppet show.
It's not a screenplay, not a book, and it never became a movie. It's an original work though, a revision of the classic novel. Not without evidence of some lapses in attention. Lolita is caused to use some British locutions -- "I shall do this," or "I'd quite forgotten" -- that sound funny in a smart but vulgar American kid.
I have some problems with Nabokov's personality. Some artists are egotists but VN was a true champion at the game.Read more ›
As a work of art, it is most certainly a great piece by itself, but to readers who are expecting this to be another masterwork like the novelized Lolita or Pale Fire, this pales in comparison.
Secondly, for the “deleted scenes” that Nabokov removed from the novel but reused for the screenplay such as a Humbert being given a grotesquely humorous guided tour of the ruins of the nonexistent McCoo home where Humbert was to have lived, but which has burned down before his arrival. Another is Humbert’s tutoring Lolita through his favorite poem by Poe.
Thirdly, for Nabokov’s delicious “Action” elements inserted between the dialogue, which are normally so staccato and boring in screenplays: “We are served the dish of the large, pine-fringed, scintillating Ramsdale Lake;” “Details of nocturnal storm, gesticulating black trees;” “She turns from sea-star supine to seal prone.” “The playwright Quilty, dead to the world, sprawls among emblems of drunkenness.”
I think the best reason, however, is to see how Nabokov envisioned the film, and how he dealt with the central problem of filming the book and others like it (e.g. Catcher in the Rye) — namely where the is a function of the book’s unique narration, which is unlikely to translate to film. Nabokov’s solution surprised me. He chose to use Humbert’s psychiatrist narration as voiceover with a pastiche of visual elements: quick cuts to Humbert as a child on the beach, snapshots coming to life, (Cut to: Picnic, lighting) and maps with arrows tracing the route, etc.. This technique also seems to successfully transfer the parodic elements of the book into the film (something that Kubrick did well but in other ways.) Nabokov’s version reminded me of an almost Wes Anderson-like treatment.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I was not very impressed with this book at all. I found the writing to be much too artificial. At the very first paragraph of Humbert's narrative, I found myself a bit put off by... Read morePublished on October 5, 2010 by M. Cromwell
One of the best books I've ever read. Excellent on so many levels. Highly recommended.Published on June 11, 2010 by J.G.
By his own account, only about 20% of Nabokov's 213 page screenplay ended up in Kubrick's film. Even so, the author's opinion of Kubrick's end product was high, and the screenplay... Read morePublished on June 1, 2000 by Joe Costa