ISBN-13: 9780679723165
Publisher: Random House, Inc.
Published: 1997
317 pgs

From the back cover:

Awe and exhilaration - along with heartbreak and mordant wit - abound in Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov's most famous and controversial novel, which tells the story of the aging Humbert Humbert's obsessive, devouring, and doomed passion for the nymphet Dolores Haze. Most of all, it is a meditation on love - love as outrage and hallucination, madness and transformation.

Narrated by Humbert Humbert, this is a memoir of his obsession and his 'relationship' with a 12-year-old girl, Dolores Haze (Lolita).

Frankly speaking, I was not sure if I wanted to read this book from the beginning, but I read a few reviews from other bookbloggers and thought this would make a good literary read despite the shocking subject. Thus, I picked up this book. So how did I feel after reading it? I was truly taken aback and yet amazed that the author was able to write this sensitive and controversial issue and turned it into a beautiful literary masterpiece.

No matter how disturbing the story is, yet I was taken in by the prose and the language and got sucked into this story. Humbert Humbert is indeed a sick man. I have no other word to describe of him. His motive for marrying Dolores' mother to get closer to the girl further tells how perverted and obsessed he is. But the worse thing is, he does not even feel remorse about everything.

On the other hand, is Dolores as innocent as what the readers think she is? Is she the seducer instead of the seducee? Someone may argue that this could be a true love story if the readers could view it from another angle. Maybe. But still I cannot imagine or accept this 'relationship' because the girl is young enough to be his daughter! I could see no purpose of this storytelling except to admit it is a great literary fiction. Lolita is an unforgettable reading experience for me but this will not stop me from reading the rest of Vladimir Nabokov's books in future.

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23 Responses
  1. Ya--I've heard that about this book. That on one hand it is so disturbing, but on the other so beautiful. I'll read it in a few weeks to finish out a few challenges, but I've kind of been putting it off. Just not sure what to expect!

  2. Ana S. Says:

    The writing really is gorgeous, isn't it? And yes, it was disturbing, but I'm definitely glad to have read it. Nabokov's use of language is just stunning.

  3. I have a copy of this one, but I still haven't been able to bring myself to read it. Great review, Melody.

  4. Rebecca Reid Says:

    I just read and reviewed Nabokov's short stories. (reviewed here.)Highly recommended.

    I'm torn about whether or not I want to read Lolita but you are the third person in a day that has said it is worth reading. I believe it. Nabokov's writing was incredible in his stories!

  5. Debi Says:

    This is just one I can't seem to make myself read. Maybe once my daughter fully grown?

  6. Jeane Says:

    I'm not sure if I want to read this one yet. So many good reviews, but I think I'd find the subject matter too disturbing.

  7. Melody Says:

    Trish - I'd love to know what you'd think of this book after you've read it! :)

    Nymeth - I agree the writing is gorgeous! I'm glad I read it!

    Wendy - I couldn't bring myself to read it in the beginning too, but I guess I couldn't resist. ;)

    Rebecca - Thanks! I'll check out your review in a moment. :) And indeed his writing is incredible!

    Debi - It's not an easy read, I agree.

    Jeane - I guess that's the contradicting part. So disturbing yet so beautiful in a way.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Humbert Humbert is a pedophile. Haze is too young and naive (maybe) to perceive the seriousness of the situation she is in. The novel is morbidly beautiful, fusing realism with lustful imagination.

  9. Melody Says:

    Matt - Indeed he is. I think you're right to say that Haze is too young & naive to perceive the seriousness of this situation. I've to applaud the author for crafting this story through his lustful imagination though.

  10. The Bookworm Says:

    I've read a few reviews on this book, and it seems most find it beautiful and disturbing at the same time.

    I dont think I would enjoy this one due to the subject matter. It kind of reminds me of 'Love in the Time of Cholera'. I felt the main character was sick, yet the writing was beautiful at times. I both hated and enjoyed it.

    great review as always.

  11. Melody Says:

    Naida - I don't enjoy the subject matter, but it's a great literary read IMO. I haven't read Love in the Time of Cholera although I've it in my pile. I'm looking forward to reading it in the near future.

  12. Amanda Says:

    My thoughts on the whole Lolita as a perpetrator issue is that we, as readers, get that impression because HH is telling the story. He's as unreliable as they come, and I don't think Lolita is anywhere near as responsible for what happens as he makes her out to be. I haven't read Lolita since 2001, but I remember the "climax" scene and HH makes it out that Lolita in the end seduced him. Bull, is what I say. I think that's his way of shirking responsibility.

    I love this book. Disturbing content or not, I think it's masterfully written. I also think people get confused when they read it, and think Nabokov wants them to approve of pedophelia, but I think by the end of the book it's clear that he doesn't.

  13. Ladytink_534 Says:

    Yeah the subject icks me out but its supposed to be this amazing classic story. I've thought about seeing one of the films instead of reading it.

  14. Melody Says:

    Amanda - Thanks for your comments and for sharing your thoughts. I agree with Matt about Lolita being too young and naive perceive the overall situation. I don't think the author wants his readers to approve of pedophelia either.

    Jen - I'm interested to watch the film after reading the book. I'll have to look out for the DVD, if any.

  15. Alice Says:

    Thanks for the review, Melody!

    When I picked this book up from the bookstore early this year, I was fully aware of the type of story it would be. And am determined to read it (just haven't got to it yet...).

  16. Melody Says:

    Alice, the story is not an easy read but I just love the prose and the writing!

  17. Anonymous Says:

    Nice review and Nabokov really has a gorgeous writing style. Don't stop at Lolita - I definitely recommend Invitation to a Beheading too.

    I reviewed the book here myself.

  18. Melody Says:

    Bookchronicle - I'll definitely read more of Nabokov's books in future. Indeed he has a gorgeous writing style. Thank you for the link! :)

  19. Anonymous Says:

    It's so beautifully written. Despite the nature of the story, I couldn't out it down and rate it as one of my all time favourite books.

    Some shameless self promotion coming up... I am hosting my first challenge in 2009 and would like it if you could check it out. It's the Manga Challenge and should be a nice easy way to try something new.

  20. Melody Says:

    Rhinoa - Yeah, the writing is beautiful! I'm looking forward to reading more of his books in the near future.

    Your challenge sounds exciting! I'll participate in it if Chinese manga is considered. ;)

  21. Shana Says:

    Melody, isn't this one kind of like a modern classic?

    Nice review. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this!

  22. Melody Says:

    It's a classic, no doubt about it, Shana! ;)

  23. Julia Says:

    Instead of reading from the book, I saw a movie version of it long way back. After seeing it, am not sure if I want to read the book too. I'm debating since you said it worth reading it despite it's disturbing read...

    Great review as always :)

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