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Lolita Paperback – March 13, 1989
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Playfully perverse in form as well as content, riddled with puns and literary allusions, Nabokov's 1955 novel is a hymn to the Russian-born author's delight in his adopted language. Indeed, readers who want to probe all of its allusive nooks and crannies will need to consult the annotated edition. Lolita is undoubtedly, brazenly erotic, but the eroticism springs less from the "frail honey-hued shoulders ... the silky supple bare back" of little Lo than it does from the wantonly gorgeous prose that Humbert uses to recount his forbidden passion:
She was musical and apple-sweet ... Lola the bobby-soxer, devouring her immemorial fruit, singing through its juice ... and every movement she made, every shuffle and ripple, helped me to conceal and to improve the secret system of tactile correspondence between beast and beauty--between my gagged, bursting beast and the beauty of her dimpled body in its innocent cotton frock.Much has been made of Lolita as metaphor, perhaps because the love affair at its heart is so troubling. Humbert represents the formal, educated Old World of Europe, while Lolita is America: ripening, beautiful, but not too bright and a little vulgar. Nabokov delights in exploring the intercourse between these cultures, and the passages where Humbert describes the suburbs and strip malls and motels of postwar America are filled with both attraction and repulsion, "those restaurants where the holy spirit of Huncan Dines had descended upon the cute paper napkins and cottage-cheese-crested salads." Yet however tempting the novel's symbolism may be, its chief delight--and power--lies in the character of Humbert Humbert. He, at least as he tells it, is no seedy skulker, no twisted destroyer of innocence. Instead, Nabokov's celebrated mouthpiece is erudite and witty, even at his most depraved. Humbert can't help it--linguistic jouissance is as important to him as the satisfaction of his arrested libido. --Simon Leake
From Library Journal
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
The story is infamous. Humbert Humbert is of European origin and in his early teenage years developed a passionate attachment to a girl of his own age, an attachment that was never entirely satisfied and over which he has obsessed for many years. Now residing in a small New England town, he becomes equally obsessed with a twelve year old girl named Lolita Haze who recreates for him the magic he felt in that first relationship. In order to be near her, Humbert rents a room from and ultimately marries Lolita's mother Charlotte--but Charlotte uncovers Humbert's motives and in a twist of fate is killed in the street as she runs from the house to expose him. The circumstance places Lolita entirely in Humbert's power. They travel extensively, partly in order that he might continue his molestation undetected, partly in order that he might prevent Lolita from forming other relationships that might offer a means of escape. But Lolita is not a simple victim, and in spite of her years already has a certain sexual expertese.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book was difficult for me to start and it shouldn't have been. I am informed of the subject matter and assumed this to be a lurid tale about pedophilia - it is not. Read morePublished 2 days ago by Don Kuper
Easily became one of my favorite writers after I read this book. Excited to read more of his work. His splendid vocabulary is makes this book one you can't put down.Published 2 days ago by happygirl
This book is a must read for people who like being in the minds of the mentally-different. I loved getting to know the characters and it raised so many questions in my own self and... Read morePublished 7 days ago by Bom Park
about the time you feel sorry for Lolita, she kicks him in the face with her bobby socks one more timePublished 9 days ago by marcia shaw
As Lolita is a much-discussed book, this review is not a review of the contents of the book itself (for I don't believe I have anything novel to include on the topic). Read morePublished 13 days ago by Danielle Labotka
Another classic, but this one I’ve read a few times. I’m not going to lie; Lolita is disturbing. The character's inner life is a lot of stale self-talk, but it's a classic.Published 14 days ago by Adan Ramie
Beautifully written book. The poetic nature of Nabokov's prose is exactly what reading classic literature should be about. I highly recommend this book to any fans of literature.Published 16 days ago by Spencer L.