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

4.8 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 904 pages
  • Publisher: Library of America (October 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1883011191
  • ISBN-13: 978-1883011192
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #153,449 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By EA 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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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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Nabokov was like Conrad, a stranger from a distant land who ended up being among the best stylists in English of their age.

This collection includes my favorite work by Nabokov: Pale Fire. Waft this beneath the nose of any person with a Masters in English who has fainted and you will revive her/im. It is in every way a perfect send up of scholarly criticism and only the Pooh Perplex approaches it in wit. I have only once written a paper with more footnotes than text: it was not a sight to behold.

For the other works here, you've either heard about Lo or seen a version of it. In written form, it is a masterpiece of voice.

Pnin draws much on Nabokov's own life, an emigre leaving Russia and fleeing Hitler and turning academic, achieving some measures of success and happiness but who then lights out for new territories.

Not to be ignored is Library of America that has drawn together many important works of great American writers. They have put these folk on good paper (acid free) between good boards (quality binding) so something of value will last.

Good works, good writers, good intentions....good reading
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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. I know a lot of people do not consider Pnin to be one of Nabokov's better novels, but I strongly disagree.

Lolita: What is there to say? The debate of Nabokov's masterpiece seems to be between Lolita and Pale Fire. I vote for Lolita. In my opinion, it's not only Nabokov's best, but possibly the best novel of the 20th century. The plot line on the surface is actually very easy to follow: everyone knows it's about a pedophile named Humbert Humbert who travels around the states with Dolores Haze, "Lolita" to him, and that he is in love with her. However, simply focusing on the basic plot line does this novel an injustice. As another reviewer pointed out regarding another Nabokov connection, you get out of his novels exactly what you put into them. You can read it simply as a story, and not bother with the French or looking up the references. I recommend reading it as it is on the first run, and then getting an annotated edition. You'll be amazed how much you missed. The ending scene with quality may be my favorite scene in any novel. Highly recommended.

Pnin: Graham Greene, in his six word review, describes this novel better than I ever could: "Hilariously funny and of a sadness." Timofey Pnin is a brilliant man that you will at first laugh at, but in a pitying sort of way. As a character he is slightly pathetic, but you will feel sorry for him. I think this may be Nabokov's funniest novel, and is one of my favorites.

Pale Fire: This novel is set up in a very clever way. We are introduced, by Charles Kinbote, to a poem called Pale Fire, which was written by his friend John Shade soon before his death.
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