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Nabokov: Novels 1955-1962: Lolita / Pnin / Pale Fire (Library of America) Hardcover – October 1, 1996


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Nabokov: Novels 1955-1962: Lolita / Pnin / Pale Fire (Library of America) + Vladimir Nabokov : Novels and Memoirs 1941-1951 : The Real Life of Sebastian Knight, Bend Sinister, Speak, Memory (Library of America) + Nabokov: Novels, 1969-1974 (Library of America)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 904 pages
  • Publisher: Library of America (October 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1883011191
  • ISBN-13: 978-1883011192
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.3 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #65,255 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The second in Library of America's three-volume collection of Vladimir Nabokov's novels, Novels 1955-1962 contains his most acclaimed and popular works. The short, often anthologized Pnin is included, as is Pale Fire, Nabokov's most elaborate fictional joke: it's a novel masquerading as a 999-line poem accompanied by a professorial pedant's extensive annotations. But this deluxe volume is most valuable for its inclusion of Lolita alongside the screenplay that Nabokov wrote for Stanley Kubrick. Kubrick's film is quite different from the version Nabokov intended, and Novels 1955-1962 offers the opportunity to compare Lolita's two Nabokovian incarnations with Kubrick's film and with the recent, very controversial movie directed by Adrian Lyne and starring Jeremy Irons.

From Library Journal

The publication of this unprecedented three-volume set marks the first time the Library of America has offered works by a foreign-born author. Though a native of Russia, Nabokov easily could be considered an American by osmosis, since he wrote many of his major works while living on U.S. soil. This trilogy contains all his American fiction and nonfiction writings and incorporates the corrections the author added to his personal editions. This also contains scholarly notes and a chronology by leading Nabokov biographer Brian Boyd.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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Nabokov's writing is a combination of believable characterizations and rich language.
E. A Solinas
Any Nabokov novel is far above even the best work of most other authors, and the three novels here, in my opinion, are his three best.
Dallas Fawson
They have put these folk on good paper (acid free) between good boards (quality binding) so something of value will last.
Robert Duncanson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 28, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Three classic novels and a solid screenplay adaptation -- Vladimir Nabokov's literary genius is perhaps best shown in the second volume of Library of America's collections. The classic "Lolita" is paired with its own screenplay adaptation, and the comic "Pnin" and witty "Pale Fire."
"Lolita" is the tale for which Nabokov is best known. The redundantly-named, middle-aged (dirty old man) Humbert Humbert is haunted by some teenage love he had long ago, and which he thinks he has refound in the prepubescent Delores Haze (called "Lolita" by Humbert). He sets out to seduce the unsuspecting girl, but her mom is standing in the way...
"Pnin" is a gently comic tale about Timofey Pnin, a timid, moderately neurotic Russian professor who now lives in the United States. He's amazed by technology, fussy, a bit weird about his health, and has problems with American train schedules. The unfortunate Pnin stumbles from one problem to another, trying to keep everything under control in uncontrollable circumstances.
"Pale Fire" is perhaps the best literary satire out there. Poet John Shade wrote the sprawling 999-line poem "Pale Fire," shortly before being murdered. After his death, the poem is being painstakingly dissected and annotated by his neighbor, Charles Kinbote. Except Kinbote is a nutjob, who interprets "Pale Fire" as being all about him, and will come up with weird symbolism to justify his belief.
"Lolita: A Screenplay" is almost a different version of "Lolita." Here Nabokov recounted the same events of the novel, but from an ominiscent perspective -- that of the person who would be watching the movie.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By drollere on August 4, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This is a compact, sturdy and high quality edition of the first novels Nabokov wrote entirely in English. It's the central volume in a three-volume set of Nabokov's autobiography and English fiction (excluding the short stories), including his finest achievements -- Lolita, Pnin and Pale Fire. The two versions of Lolita (as novel and screen adaptation) are illuminating to read together: the novel is created within Humbert's subjective and self-serving memory, while in the screenplay Nabokov reimagines the story as objective action. I was also intrigued to find that some obvious departures from the novel in Kubrick's film -- such as the opening scene of Humbert shooting Quilty, or the high school prom scene -- are ideas taken from the Nabokov screenplay (in turn fragments of the novel excised in the final version). Brian Boyd offers an impeccable text, much improved over the paperback editions, with a chronology of the author's life. This is the volume to choose if you unravel Nabokov's narrative patterns with your own marginal notes and comments, and want a volume that won't disintegrate in a nymphet's span of years.
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37 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Author Bill Peschel on August 31, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Picture Vladimir Nabokov. In the hall of mirrors that is popular culture, he is the dirty man who wrote the dirty book "Lolita," about a 12-year-old "nymphet" -- he invented the term, by the way -- and her affair with an older man.
Angle the mirror another way, and he is one of the founders of the modernist novel, which to some people -- myself included -- that's a damning phrase. "Modernist" and "post-modernist" literature seems a) self-referencing to the point of egotism; b) dedicated to the advancement of decedent themes, and to score big points as a writer, pile it on, brother; and c) obsessed with the discovery that the "arts" -- whether books, pictures or movies -- are artificial, and that we use them to create, well, books, pictures and movies.
Unless you think I am making it up, here's an example drawn from real life: a few years back, a Charlotte museum mounted an exhibition of a painter's work, one of which was a canvas whose front side was turned toward the wall, exposing a paint-stained frame. A newspaper reviewer breathlessly informed the reading public that the artist did this "to inform the viewer that most paintings are recetangular."
Now, a reasonably intelligent person could probably reach that conclusion without much effort, but discoveries like these seem to drive those who tread into the "modern" era of art.
So Vlaidmir Nabokov's reputation is caught between two very opposing poles. He either panders to the worst tastes of man, or the worst tastes of art.
Fortunately, he is neither, and the Library of America agrees.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John L Murphy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Listening to Jeremy Irons' perfect audiobook rendering of the perfect novel "Lolita" recently reminded me of the original work, so I went back to it and I welcomed the screenplay paired here for pleasure; I also re-read "Pnin" and "Pale Fire," which overlap obliquely. It'd been thirty years since I enjoyed those three novels, and like Humbert Humbert, Charles Kinbote, and Pnin himself, I'm about the same age-bracket as their creator was when he conjured up these erudite, erratic, and eccentric characters who in turn, of course, play off of himself, however much he may have denied it from his own niche in East Coast academia in postwar America.

"Lolita" as a novel I found rare: it needed not a word replaced; every adjective was necessary, each verb crafted, every sentence chiseled. My comments would be superfluous, but in the Library of America edition, Brian Boyd's notes pale before those in the annotated edition by Alfred Appel, whose version I recommend. If you lack not only fluent French but Russian, not to mention reams of insight into the worlds of art, butterflies, popular culture of the time, and wordplay that anyone less brilliant than Nabokov would not catch, Appel's edition supplants Boyd. Boyd drew upon Appel's notes and as his biographer, Boyd adds a few tidbits among those Appel did not in his reticence to expose certain facts gleaned from interviews with Nabokov a few decades ago. However, as with the rest of this handsome to hold LofA edition, Boyd's notes tend, as in many LofA commentaries, to skimp, perhaps due to pressure to keep the books easy to hold.

The sadness of "Lolita" lingers, with its beauty.
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