Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
(Penguin Modern Classics)

76%

27 Critic Reviews

Though the concept of reading an entire novel about pedophila sounds entirely repulsive, Nabokov’s extreme command of language, persuasion, and misdirection leaves readers often sympathizing with Humbert. Though the plot may be about molestation, the novel is about so much more.
-Blog Critics

Synopsis

Awe and exhiliration--along with heartbreak and mordant wit--abound in Lolita, 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. Lolita is also the story of a hypercivilized European colliding with the cheerful barbarism of postwar America. Most of all, it is a meditation on love--love as outrage and hallucination, madness and transformation.
 

About Vladimir Nabokov

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VLADIMIR NABOKOV studied French and Russian literature at Trinity College, Cambridge, then lived in Berlin and Paris, writing prolifically in Russian under the pseudonym Sirin. In 1940, he left France for the United States, where he wrote some of his greatest works-Bend Sinister (1947), Lolita (1955), Pnin (1957), and Pale Fire (1962)-and translated his earlier Russian novels into English. He taught at Wellesley, Harvard, and Cornell. He died in Montreux, Switzerland, in 1977. Thomas Karshan is the author of Vladimir Nabokov and the Art of Play and co- translator of Nabokov's The Tragedy of Mister Morn. Previously a research fellow at Christ Church, Oxford, and Queen Mary, University of London, he is now a lecturer in literature at the University of East Anglia. He lives in London and Norwich.
 
Published July 23, 2010 by Vintage. 372 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Erotica, Humor & Entertainment, Science & Math, Romance. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Lolita
All: 27 | Positive: 22 | Negative: 5

Kirkus

Below average
on Aug 01 1980

That a book like this could be written- published here sold, presumably over the counters, leaves one questioning the ethical and moral standards...I do think there is a place for the exploration of abnormalities, that does not lie in the public domain.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Charles McGrath on Sep 24 2005

"Lolita" is unlike most controversial books in that its edge has not dulled over time. Where "Ulysses" and "Lady Chatterley's Lover," say, now seem familiar and inoffensive, almost quaint, Nabokov's masterpiece is, if anything, more disturbing than it used to be.

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Blog Critics

Above average
Reviewed by Krayton Brox on Jul 31 2012

Though the concept of reading an entire novel about pedophila sounds entirely repulsive, Nabokov’s extreme command of language, persuasion, and misdirection leaves readers often sympathizing with Humbert. Though the plot may be about molestation, the novel is about so much more.

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Blog Critics

Above average
Reviewed by Jessica Schneider on Jan 11 2009

So I leave you, readers, with Lolita – a book worth the exploration, but given such lofty reputation, it is likely to leave one disappointed, even if only slightly.

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Blog Critics

Excellent
Reviewed by Pacze Moj on Mar 12 2006

English isn’t English when it’s written by Vladimir Nabokov. Reading Lolita is like learning a new language; one that’s precise, aloof, and full of trickery and playfulness....Lolita is a book for fellow grammaphiles.

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Dear Author

Good
Reviewed by Jennie on Dec 18 2009

I’m not sure, ultimately, that I entirely “get” all that Lolita is about. But it impressed me, it made me laugh, and it moved me. It’s a brilliant novel.

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NPR

Good
Reviewed by Bret Anthony Johnston on Jul 07 2006

The prose is by turns passionate and playful, while the narrative is simultaneously lyrical and unsettling and erotic and violent...It may be one of the only love stories you'll ever read. This is the most thrilling and beautiful and most deeply disturbing aspect of the novel...

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The Independent

Good
Reviewed by Humbert gets to tell the story. He makes the usual excuses – I wasn't the first, she seduced me – but no feeling person can side with him. Lolita is one of the most useful fictions I have ever read. on Apr 10 2014

Humbert gets to tell the story. He makes the usual excuses – I wasn't the first, she seduced me – but no feeling person can side with him. Lolita is one of the most useful fictions I have ever read.

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Salon

Good
Reviewed by Allen Barra on Dec 22 2005

“Lolita” is anything but dull — it may be the most exhilarating novel I’ve ever read. But there is something ultimately depressing about it, and I realize after all these years that it has to do with the author caring so little about the fact that he made his heroine so realistic to me that I could not accept her fate as just a literary device.

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The Atlantic

Above average
Reviewed by Charles Rolo on Jun 10 2014

...above all Lolita seems to me an assertion of the power of the comic spirit to wrest delight and truth from the most outlandish materials. It is one of the funniest serious novels I have ever read...

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Lit Reactor

Below average
Reviewed by Brian McGackin on Feb 25 2014

I honestly think that Lolita is skippable (or at least watch the Kubrick film if you're just interested in the story, though that version changed much), but I wouldn't blame die-hard lit readers who want to check this one out for themselves.

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LA Times

Good
Reviewed by Robert R. Kirsch on Aug 31 1980

What you will find in "Lolita" are other pleasures and other sadnesses. If you like Fielding, Smollett and Sterne, if the comic novel of the 18th century appeals to you, you are in for a treat.

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Lippy

Good
Reviewed by Kate McManus on Apr 15 2012

Lolita remains a masterpiece of fiction. Shunning symbolism and denying morality, it is as enthralling and ultimately evasive as its wayward protagonist.

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Yahoo! Voices

Good
Reviewed by Benn Bell on May 06 2010

Lolita is a work of fiction that exists for the sole purpose of eliciting a state of "aesthetic bliss." In this regard it succeeds admirably.

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Jules' Book Reviews

Below average
Reviewed by Jules on Feb 10 2013

The beginning of the book captured be almost immediately especially because of Nabokov's writing style. Unfortunately, the book as a whole was a slight let down for me and it quickly went from an engaging read, to just another average book.

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Lit Lovers

Good
on Jun 16 2014

I wish I could explicate this novel for you, but I can't. I'd need to enroll in a graduate level seminar on the book to fully understand it. But it's a fabulous read—fabulous in the real sense of the world.

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Literary Exploration

Above average
Reviewed by MICHAEL KITTO on Mar 30 2013

You may not enjoy reading this book but you might enjoy having read it. I have to admit that I enjoyed this book more the second time around; there is great beauty to be found in this book and while content makes this book difficult to get through it is well worth the effort.

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Musings of a Bookish Kitty

Excellent
Reviewed by Wendy Runyon on Dec 20 2012

What I admire most about the novel is the artistry of the writing and of the story. I can truly see why Nabokov favored this book so much. It must have been a challenge to write on many different levels. My hat goes off to him for making me, in the end, like a book I was sure I would hate...

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The Mookse and the Gripes

Good
Reviewed by Trevor Berrett on Oct 19 2008

She’s the title character, and yet she says nothing, even if Humbert Humbert puts words in her mouth. Reading with this in mind hightens the tension between the reader and this confessional manuscript.

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http://roofbeamreader.com

Good
on Apr 04 2011

It goes without saying that Mr. Humbert is a troubled man – but he is also brilliant and eerily endearing. Here is an anti-hero who one knows should be despised, yet you find yourself, at times, self-consciously rooting for him.

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Reading In Winter

Below average
Reviewed by Kristilyn on Dec 07 2011

I guess I just feel like I was ripped off of my time having spent a few days reading this. Nabokov just went on and on, page by page...I realize that Nabokov loved words and he did a magnificent job of crafting sentences—even if they were excruciatingly long at some points.

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Booktopia Blog

Good
Reviewed by John Purcell on May 11 2010

...it is a complex book. It is also an interesting book, a rewarding book. And, for more reasons than the obvious, Lolita is a challenging and disturbing book.

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If You Write It

Good
on Jan 20 2015

The writing is compelling and spell binding and Humbert wants very badly to make you see his side of things...Lolita is a compelling book.

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Literary Corner Cafe Blog

Excellent
on Aug 18 2010

Lolita is, above all else, an incandescent novel. It is, at times, hysterically funny, wildly inventive, and deeply sad. It shows us that obsessive love is deep, tragic, hallucinatory, intense, funny, thrilling, and heart-rending.

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Insatiable Book Sluts

Good
Reviewed by Heather on May 02 2014

As far as the writing goes, my god, it’s gorgeous–especially when HH is describing the surrounding landscapes. One of my favorite things about this book is the language itself.

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Your Move, Dickens

Excellent
Reviewed by Darlyn on Feb 05 2011

...I’m pretty surprised that Lolita became so controversial. Nabokov clearly depicts the evils of pedophilia. To sum up this five-star novel, I want to say something poetic, something worthy...I have a feeling that weeks from now, months even, I will still be thinking about and deciphering the puzzle that is Lolita.

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Blurb Book Reviews

Good
on Jun 16 2014

The comment made on the cover of my copy was ‘A Masterpiece’ and I wholeheartedly agree...I don’t feel I can use the word ‘enjoyable’ for this novel either as it just doesn’t seem applicable. Instead, my personal comment about this piece of work is Stunning.

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Reader Rating for Lolita
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