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Lolita [Kindle Edition]

Vladimir Nabokov , Craig Raine
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (212 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Humbert Humbert - scholar, aesthete and romantic - has fallen completely and utterly in love with Lolita Haze, his landlady's gum-snapping, silky skinned twelve-year-old daughter. Reluctantly agreeing to marry Mrs Haze just to be close to Lolita, Humbert suffers greatly in the pursuit of romance; but when Lo herself starts looking for attention elsewhere, he will carry her off on a desperate cross-country misadventure, all in the name of Love. Hilarious, flamboyant, heart-breaking and full of ingenious word play, Lolita is an immaculate, unforgettable masterpiece of obsession, delusion and lust.

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Amazon Review

Despite its lascivious reputation, the pleasures of Lolita are as much intellectual as erogenous. It is a love story with the power to raise both chuckles and eyebrows. Humbert Humbert is a European intellectual adrift in America, haunted by memories of a lost adolescent love. When he meets his ideal nymphet in the shape of 12-year-old Dolores Haze, he constructs an elaborate plot to seduce her, but first he must get rid of her mother. In spite of his diabolical wit, reality proves to be more slippery than Humbert's feverish fantasies and Lolita refuses to conform to his image of the perfect lover. 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 post-war 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


He did us all an honour by electing to use, and transform, our language. (Anthony Burgess)

Nabokov can move you to laughter in the way that masters can - to laughter that is near to tears. (The Guardian)

There's no funnier monster in modern literature than poor, doomed Humbert Humbert. (The Independent)

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 924 KB
  • Print Length: 372 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (27 July 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0089NVIGK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (212 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,924 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov was born on April 23, 1899, in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Nabokov household was trilingual, and as a young man, he studied Slavic and romance languages at Trinity College, Cambridge, taking his honors degree in 1922. For the next eighteen years he lived in Berlin and Paris, writing prolifically in Russian under the pseudonym Sirin and supporting himself through translations, lessons in English and tennis, and by composing the first crossword puzzles in Russian. In 1925 he married Vera Slonim, with whom he had one child, a son, Dmitri. Having already fled Russia and Germany, Nabokov became a refugee once more in 1940, when he was forced to leave France for the United States. There he taught at Wellesley, Harvard, and Cornell. He also gave up writing in Russian and began composing fiction in English. Yet Nabokov's American period saw the creation of what are arguably his greatest works, Bend Sinister (1947), Lolita (1955), Pnin (1957), and Pale Fire (1962), as well as the translation of his earlier Russian novels into English. He also undertook English translations of works by Lermontov and Pushkin and wrote several books of criticism. Vladimir Nabokov died in Montreux, Switzerland, in 1977.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
108 of 119 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Darkly sensuous and disturbingly beautiful 21 Feb. 2003
By Tom
Lolita is in many ways an extraordinary book. Not only in its choice of subject matter which is perhaps more controversial today then it was in the 1950s but also in the style of writing. It is perhaps the best written book that I have ever read. Nabokov's writing style has a richness that is even more remarkable given that it is not his native tongue. The expert use of allusion, extended metaphor and generously evocative imagery makes this a book to savour slowly and one that is closer at times to poetry than prose.
But what a poem. Humbert Humbert is perhaps the very model of the antihero but as he is also the narrator everything is seen through the prism of his own monstrous and predatory lusts. Lolita herself, as Humbert admits, remains something of an enigma throughout. The narrator is unable to see her as an individual and she is portrayed as the archetypal 'nymphet,' who serves merely to serve his own needs. Any deviation from this role is regarded as betrayal. But then the book is entitled Lolita not Delores Hayes and 'Lolita' is no more than the perfect nymphet lurking inside Humbert's diseased brain never a girl of blood and flesh.
Humbert does not in fact offer much in the way of self justification beyond the occasional admission of insanity and his sickening claims to truly love the girl. He also seems to grow in awareness of his perversion as the novel goes on but never seems to regret it. He starts by offering various justifications of child brides from history but his final allusion is to Sade's Justine which is surely an admission of guilt. But the prose is so tender and so darkly comic that all this is repeatedly obscured and Nabokov manages to win you a twisted sympathy for his protagonist even, almost, for his predicament.
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126 of 143 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing 21 Jun. 2006
I was interested to see how `Lolita' would read, given the current climate, and was worried that Nabokov, writing in the 1950s, would somehow see paedophilia as being less serious than we would view it today. `Lolita' is undoubtedly an uncomfortable read. It is related from the perspective of a relatively unrepentant paedophile, Humbert Humbert. He documents the origins of his obsession with `nymphets' - pre-pubescent girls - and his pursuit of them. Eventually he meets Lolita, his landlady's daughter, and recounts his (eventually successful) plot to run away with her and take her for his lover while pretending to be father and daughter. Humbert's dual roles, as father and abuser, leads him to obsessive jealousy, and Lolita's accelerated adolescence leave her as a precocious adult in a child's body, scarred and cynical. Both lead to tragic consequences, and wasted lives in more ways than one.

Although Humbert is both the villain and narrator, he doesn't hide the sordidness of his crime, and the effects of abuse on Lolita are acknowledged. Nabokov brilliantly treads a fine line between making Humbert human (and seeing the world through his eyes) and recognising the reality of his crimes. Despite Nabokov's choice of making a paedophile his narrator and central character, there is little sympathy for Humbert throughout the book, and paedophilia is presented as being every bit as repugnant as it is generally viewed today. Where Humbert makes excuses for himself, it is clear that they are Humbert's, not Nabokov's, excuses, and we are not expected to sympathise. Humbert's actions are also not presented as being in any way erotic. There are no graphic descriptions either, the suggestion is enough.

Because Nabokov treats his subject so skilfully, `Lolita' was a fantastic book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do not miss this masterpiece 11 July 2002
By A Customer
Never has anyone dared use the English language in such a beautiful way to desribe the most haneous of acts. Monsieur Humbert narrates his painful tail of an illicit affair with the fourteen year old daughter of his departed wife, and his ultimate self destruction at the hands of the nymphet who stole his very soul.
The controversial subject matter could easily be misinterpreted, but to the more insightful reader, it becomes apparent Humbert has an undeveloped heart steming from the tragic loss of his first love, consuquently leaving him in an emotional limbo. Although it is difficult to justify the relationship, Nobokov reveals the intense romanticism and dependacy shared between the pair, never once using any curse or crude adjectives, and just who seduces who?
The enthralling, beautiful language and implicit word play make the book a joy to read, whilst also delivering a sharp twang as we are taken to the edge of our moral barometer. Dig deep enough and you'll also detect the darkly sarcastic, humerous side of Nobokov's story; for example Lolita's two school masters Miss Lester and Miss Fabian, or the tragically ironic demise of the relationship.
The subject matter and the original, passionate delivery makes this novel an extraordinary journey through the most intense of human emotions. Love, hate, obsession, to name but a few are expertly manipulated, making for an unforgettable experience.
Never has controversy been so delightfully poignant.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 22 Feb. 2012
By Simon
Put simply, this is one of the best books that I have ever read, for a writer to be able to deal with such a subject in the way that Nabakov does is an amazing achievement in itself. Lolita is an absolute work of art and still an easy to read, wonderful, funny story. Amazing.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Read before you die
One of the top ten novels of all time if we're talking about literary style. Nabokov breaks all the rules and laughs while he's doing it. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Jonah Whale
5.0 out of 5 stars and above all beautifully written novel
Something I've always meant to read. A complex, richly imaginative, and above all beautifully written novel.
Published 1 month ago by Orlandogibbons
5.0 out of 5 stars Stark, funny and disturbing.
Stark, funny and disturbing.
Published 1 month ago by Lee09
5.0 out of 5 stars changed my life
one of my favourite books
Published 1 month ago by Maya
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
A story of unrequited love; I loved the book but it seemed completely indifferent to me.
Published 1 month ago by JPG
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A beautiful classic. Very moving.
Published 1 month ago by Oliver
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Book arrived in perfect condition
Published 2 months ago by Caleb rooney
5.0 out of 5 stars Forget what you have heard and read it.
I guess we all have something in our minds when we hear 'Lolita', but so few people have read it. I have been surprised to see peoples reactions when i tell them what book i am... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Chu-i
2.0 out of 5 stars An Unfriendly Book
It was difficult to finish, very difficult, and not solely due to the rambling narrative style. I found it became--and I hate to use the word-- boring. Read more
Published 2 months ago by The Man
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 3 months ago by Tanya
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