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W Thomas (Wales, UK)

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For Whom The Bell Tolls (Vintage War)
For Whom The Bell Tolls (Vintage War)
by Ernest Hemingway
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

69 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great novel, awful paperback!, 1 Sept. 2005
I can say nothing new about the novel itself. It is a masterpiece, as thoroughly human as every one of its characters. It is a brilliant study of life and human emotions, and Hemingway's writing is exciting and astonishing if not a little intense at times.
However I must express most strongly how bad the quality of this edition is. It is laden with misspellings, and the binding is truly atrocious - my copy fell apart under very little stress. I urge you to buy hardback or the Arrow edition.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 21, 2009 8:48 AM BST


Lolita
Lolita
by Vladimir Nabokov
Edition: Paperback

30 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging confessions of a dangerous mind, 13 July 2005
This review is from: Lolita (Paperback)
Lolita, in a nutshell, is simply the best piece of prose in the English language. Nabokov is miles ahead of the competition in his command of the language.
For this reason the book took me a long time to read, far longer than many larger novels. Such was the depth and dimension of the writing that I found it impossible to absorb everything that Nabokov intended at first glance. This reading and re-reading was thoroughly rewarding, throwing up new puns, metaphors, references and golden nuggets of literary ingenuity every time.
Many have said that the plot is secondary to the language. Secondary in what way I wonder? Nabokov in my opinion presents both with such remarkable ease and style that it depends on the disposition of the reader whether they pay more attention to one or the other.
To touch briefly on the subject matter: This book is not for the narrow-minded or the faint-hearted. The first few instances of obvious paedophilia made me feel rather queasy. Is it a good thing that I got used to them as the book went on? Many seem to think that it was Nabokov's evil intention to lull the reader into embracing paedophilia.
This is nonsense. Humbert asks for no sympathy; he deserves none. What Nabokov achieves is to encourage us to perceive the paedophile from a different angle, by offering us this rare and vivid insight into the criminal's mind. It is still evil, still utterly twisted, but far more complex than the tabloids would have us believe.
Of course I'm sure that this was not really an agenda that he set out to accomplish. The paedophilia is I think just an example - a good example - of how the human mind can be corrupted. This set the author's template by which to paint the human being that abided by that mind. On this level the book is a fascinating character study, even a psychoanalysis.
There really isn't enough room here to fully discuss every facet of this masterpiece. It examines childhood and adolescence, love, crime, culture, society to name but a few, and is generously infused with irony, poignancy, tenderness and very black humour - laugh-aloud humour at times.
So to summarise, this is a work more deserving of the title 'genius' than any other. If I could award 6 stars I would. You will remember this book for years to come for the language as well as the thought-provoking content. For full enjoyment, keep an open mind and a dictionary at hand.


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