Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lolita

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Oh Vladimir Nabokov you dirty, dirty, witty, genius you.  You had me laughing, you had me gagging, you had me hanging on your every lushes word with your masterpiece Lolita.  I was told that Lolita was a must read and so it went on my list of books to be read in 2010.  I have to admit that when I first realized what the story was about I was pretty much repulsed.  I was listening to the audio book and I almost shut it off but something (probably a perverse curiosity of where the story could possibly be going or the narrators witty and poetic dialogue) kept me from hitting the eject button on the CD player.  I couldn't believe that the content in the book was actually published in the mid 1950s, as it is scandalous even by todays standards!!  With vocabulary that one might encounter in a Harlequin Romance or a dirty movie, you can be sure that I blushed every now and then.  But despite the off colored subject matter I can't say enough how beautiful the words in this book are.  I LOVED the contrast between the ugly story and the beautiful writing.

Lolita is narrated by Humbert Humbert, a European literary scholar that when you first meet him is in prison.  The story that he tells is actually his written statement to the jury that will be used in his trial, where he is being accused for murder and statutory rape.  His statement takes you through his young years when he was 13 years old and living in Europe.  That summer he meets a beautiful girl named Annabelle and he falls in love and enters into a young love affair that starts to become physical as some young relationships do.   But right before Annabelle and Humbert Humbert consummate their young relationship, summer ends and then Annabelle tragically dies.  This affects H.H. so badly that he becomes obsessed with 13 year old girls to replace the feeling he had with his dear Annabelle.  Obviously this starts to become quite a nasty little obsession as he gets older and older.  Soon he moves to the US and struggles with his attraction to young girls (nymphets as he calls them), he finds himself in and out of psychiatric facilities and eventually he finds himself in a small little town and boarding with a single woman Charlotte and her dangerously prepubescent daughter Doloris (Lolita) Haze.  H.H marries Doloris's mother all the while lusting heavily for this 13 year old girl.  When Charlotte dies H.H. jumps at the chance to become Lolita's "Daddy" and he pretty much detains her in his car as he travels around the country for a year with this little girl carrying on an illicit love affair.  Surprisingly precocious Lolita is well versed in physical relationships (some encounters at summer camp) and she becomes a somewhat willing party in this "romance".  Eventually Lolita leaves H.H. and he goes a little insane.

Before you write this book off as Classic Smut I have to say that the writing is superb and as I mentioned earlier the witty dialogue had me riveted despite the content.  I would absolutely recommend this book to certain people (I understand that this isn't everybody's cup 'o tea.)

BOOK vs. MOVIE: This book as been adapted to film twice once in 1962, then again in 1997.  And as shocking as it that the book was written and published in the 1950s I am equally astounded that they made the film version in the 1960s!!!!  I haven't seen either film adaption but I have put them on my "to see" list.  I would like to see both versions so I can compare the different time eras and how they tackle this sensitive subject.

RATING: 4 Stars

3 More Reviews of Lolita:


Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov {Audio Book}
ISBN: 9780739322062
10 Discs {11 hours 32 minutes}

If you liked this book I really don't know what to recommend.

8 comments:

  1. Great review! It's weird how this has become such a well known and well loved classic despite the repulsory topic! I definitely want to read this!

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  2. Wow Jenny! You win the award for quickest commenter ever in history!! :) I just posted this there you are!! haha! I would absolutely put this on your to read list.

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  3. I loved this read the first time, and then the second time for a university class. This is a great review - the more you read this book the more it will show you its true beauty.

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  4. Nabokov is a mad scientist with words! I've never read Lolita, but have read others of his (Pale Fire, Pnin) and emerged from each of those with my brain at near-breaking point. I've read that Lolita is actually his most accessible work, so maybe you're on to something by consuming it via audio... Great review - thanks!

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  5. Thanks for the review.
    I have had this in my TBR pile for awile, and I admit, I was a bit afraid to read it, because of the subject matter.

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  6. This is on my TBR list..thanks for the review.

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