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Lolita (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – February 3, 2000

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Editorial Reviews Review

Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita triggers a deep conflict within the American psyche about crossing the line between love and the perverse lust for a child. In the bestselling audiobook, Jeremy Irons delivers a smooth, calculating presentation of Humbert Humbert, the middle-aged man obsessed with a 13-year-old girl named Lolita. Following a failed marriage to a "large, puffy, short-legged, big-breasted and practically brainless baba," Humbert decides to move to America to work as a tutor. Much to his dismay, his plans change and he moves into a boarding house in Ramsdale, New Hampshire. But his disappointment quickly fades after he realizes he lives next door to the "light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul Lo-li-ta." The relationship blossoms between the man "with a cesspool of rotting monsters behind his slow boyish smile" and the sassy, vivacious young girl.

The Russian-born author has amazing control of the English language--his jaw-dropping prose comes through powerfully on this audiotape (though some scholars believe the novel symbolizes Nabokov's internal struggle with the English language). Regardless of whether you condemn or condone the classic, listening to this audio rendition is a must. --Gina Kaysen (Running time: 11.5 hours) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This unabridged edition of Nabokov's classic story about a middle-aged, expatriate European man's obsessive love for a 12-year-old girl?which is being released to coincide with director Adrian Lyne's new film version?is a beautifully produced recording that pushes the boundaries of the audio medium. While Lolita continues to raise the hackles of would-be censors even today, most listeners will marvel at the restraint and playful humor with which Nabokov limns his tale. Narrator Jeremy Irons, who plays Humbert Humbert in Lyne's film, is an uncompromising audiobook reader whose performances on cassette are as laudatory as his Academy AwardR-winning work on the silver screen. This landmark release is highly recommended for all library collections.?Mark Annichiarico, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Modern Classics (Book 936)
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Putnam~trade; New Ed edition (February 3, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141182539
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141182537
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,053 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,701,893 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov was born on April 23, 1899, in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Nabokov household was trilingual, and as a young man, he studied Slavic and romance languages at Trinity College, Cambridge, taking his honors degree in 1922. For the next eighteen years he lived in Berlin and Paris, writing prolifically in Russian under the pseudonym Sirin and supporting himself through translations, lessons in English and tennis, and by composing the first crossword puzzles in Russian. In 1925 he married Vera Slonim, with whom he had one child, a son, Dmitri. Having already fled Russia and Germany, Nabokov became a refugee once more in 1940, when he was forced to leave France for the United States. There he taught at Wellesley, Harvard, and Cornell. He also gave up writing in Russian and began composing ficticvbn ral books of criticism. Vladimir Nabokov died in Montreux, Switzerland, in 1977.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

250 of 261 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 5, 1999
Format: Paperback
If you've only heard of "Lolita" from its reputation as being "pornographic", you are in for a surprise when you read it. Yes, it involves a lecherous, middle aged man chasing after a 12 year old "nymphet". Yes, it is deeply disturbing and makes one queasy at times. It is also a brilliant, funny, witty, literary rollercoaster which will delight you and dazzle you with the beauty of language. Nabakov can make words jump through hoops you never even knew existed, while he explores the dark realms of obsession and longing.
The narrator, Humbert Humbert, is a fascinating construction. As readers, we find ourselves simultaneously repelled by his actions and sympathetic to his yearning. We are utterly charmed by his wit, intelligence and verbal acrobatics, sometimes to the point where we lost sight of what he's doing to his object of desire, Lolita.
I would suggest that all readers reaquaint themselves with the concept of the "unreliable narrator" before they sink into Humbert's hypnotic web of logic. When you find yourself sympathizing with Hum about Lolita's "cruelties", try to remember that you are seeing everything through his twisted and self-serving lens. Humbert has rationalized his behavior so deeply and reports it to us so entertainingly, that we find ourselves accepting his interpretations of people and events at face value. However, we must remember that Hum is capable of the most monsterous of deceptions (note how long it takes him to inform Lolita of her mother's demise), and of self deceptions. Read between the lines. Question his reading of events. Pay attention when his reporting is at odds with his interpretations of them.
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313 of 343 people found the following review helpful By Folantin HALL OF FAME on December 10, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have no real excuse for not reading "Lolita" before this late date. It's certainly a book that crops up in conversation a great deal. I watched the James Mason film version of the book years ago--perhaps that's what put me off. I recently watched the Jeremy Irons version and loved it. I suppose part of me asked why myself why I'd want to read a book that is essentially the ramblings of a middle-aged pervert. Anyway, I decided that I'd procrastinated long enough, and it was time to get serious and find out what all the fuss is about.
The story is narrated by middle-aged Humbert Humbert. He's a pedophile--although he's tried denying it, tried disguising it, and tried channeling his baser instincts, but as luck would have it, Humbert finds himself as the lodger at the home of a buxom, lonely widow, Charlotte Haze and 12-year-old daughter, Lolita. Humbert doesn't particularly even like Lolita--he actually finds her rather dull, but she becomes a vessel for the fantasies left by Humbert's unfulfilled first love affair.
Due to the subject matter, the book was, at times, rather difficult to read, and it is a tribute to Nabokov's skill as a writer that I was gripped by this story. Humbert Humbert is at his most 'human' (introspective) during his pre- and post-Lolita phases. Once Humbert crosses the boundaries of ethical behaviour and begins a physical relationship with Lolita, there is no going back. At times, Humbert congratulates himself for his cleverness and calls himself a "magician," and then at other times, Humbert seems to realize how despicable he truly is. Unfortunately, the occasional flash of insight is too pale and fleeting to release Humbert from his obsession with his "nymphet" and so Humbert accepts his enslavement and ultimate fate.
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441 of 517 people found the following review helpful By Paul McGrath on November 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a magnificent book in many ways, most of which have been commented on--often brilliantly--by Amazon reviewers. I would therefore like to restrict my comments to the morality of the book, and to those who to this day view the book with outrage. Even those who admire the book somehow feel compelled to comment that they are "disturbed" by it. Why is this? Let us first examine the novel itself.

As everybody knows, it is the story of Humbert Humbert, a full-grown, adult male--not an old man--who seduces a compliant twelve-year old girl, and then goes on to have a year or so long "affair" with her. I put the term "affair" in quotation marks, because it probably isn't appropriate to describe a sexual relationship between a full grown male and a female child in such terms. Is it safe to say that most rational human beings disapprove of such relationships? It is certainly safe to say that Nabakov--and his narrator--know that such relationships are wrong. This is important. The tale is not only told in the context of a moral universe, it is also told by a character who is in acceptance of a moral universe. Oh, he makes a comment here and there about some medieval king marrying his twelve year old cousin, but clearly, his heart isn't in it. He knows that he is a monster, a "brute."

Indeed, his goal was never to have sex with a conscious Lolita to begin with. His goal initially was only to fondle her after drugging her to induce sleep; she was never to know what he was doing. Of course this is also reprehensible, but clearly it shows a conscience at work. A conscience motivated in part by fear, to be sure, but also a conscience for the welfare--at least early on--of this little girl. Conscience is not normally a factor in purely prurient forms of entertainment.
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