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Thread: Vladimir Nabokov: Lolita

  1. #21
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    Default Re: Vladimir Nabokov: Lolita

    Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
    A Review

    It’s highly likely that by this coming Saturday (12/09), I will be finished with Nabokov’s Lolita. I am enjoying it at leisure. So far the novel is a masterful world of literature. The story is perversely, and clearly obscene which might be the oddity in capturing so many readers focus. I enjoy how each player plays off the other; the diction so vitally precise and flowing freely. Nabokov has his own voice: That’s surely a fact, no doubt it. His words push you along in a fiercely rapid, smooth, and, at times, staccato pace.

    I must admit that for me It was somewhat difficult to find the groove in his writing (like I had with Atwood), but once I found it - his rhythm - I was (am) hooked. Detail is one of his grand talents, no question.

    Lolita is definitely a masterpiece that demands more than one read. Beautiful novel!

  2. #22
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    Default Re: Vladimir Nabokov: Lolita

    this is the an excerpt from "Lolita" describing Humbert's first adolescent love experience.
    Whether or not it is erotic, or pornographic, well, I guess, each reader can decide on their own. To me, this is one of the most exquisitely written piece of text I've laid my eyes on in years.


    "I have reserved for the conclusion of my "Annabel" phase the account of our unsuccessful first tryst. One night, she managed to deceive the vicious vigilance of her family. In a nervous and slender-leaved mimosa grove at the back of their villa we found a perch on the ruins of a low stone wall. Through the darkness and the tender trees we could see the arabesques of lighted windows which, touched up by the colored inks of sensitive memory, appear to me now like playing cards-presumably because a bridge game was keeping the enemy busy. She trembled and twitched as I kissed the corner of her parted lips and the hot lobe of her ear. A cluster of stars palely glowed above us, between the silhouettes of long thin leaves; that vibrant sky seemed as naked as she was under her light frock. I saw her face in the sky, strangely distinct as if it emitted a faint radiance of its own. Her legs, her lovely live legs, were not too close together, and when my hand located what it sought, a dreamy and eerie expression, half pleasure, half-pain, came over those childish features. She sat a little higher than I, and whenever in her solitary ecstasy she was led to kiss me, her head would bend with a sleepy, soft, drooping movement that was almost woeful, and her bare knees caught and compressed my wrist, and slackened again and her quivering mouth, distorted by the acridity of some mysterious potion, with a sibilant intake of breath came near to my face. She would try to relieve the pain of love by first roughly rubbing her dry lips against mine; then my darling would draw away with a nervous toss of her hair, and then again come darkly near and let me feed on her open mouth, while with a generosity that was ready to offer her everything, my heart, my throat, my entrails, I gave her to hold in her awkward fist the scepter of my passion".

  3. #23
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    Default Re: Vladimir Nabokov: Lolita

    Off topic: Titania7, Cioran? I must confess, I'm rather surprised...

  4. #24

    Default Re: Vladimir Nabokov: Lolita

    In April 2010 Penguin released a new edition (Modern Classics) of Lolita. In this edition the original (fictional) 'Foreword' was omitted, apparently by mistake. Once the mistake was noticed, the edition (that is the copies which had not been distributed, and those which it was possible to recall) was pulped.

    The 'Foreword' to Lolita serves a very important purpose in the book. By telling us about Humbert Humbert, it instructs us readers on how to approach the character and his narrative, on what key to read the book. Lolita without the 'Foreword' is an entirely different book.

    I always saw Lolita's 'Foreword' as a sort of protective 'moral' shield without which the book would have been impossible to publish in the 1950s. It has also been argued that the 'Foreword' is ironic. I suspect it was the author's purpose (or whoever suggested the idea of the 'Foreword' to him) to make it work both ways: as a protective shield against censorship, and as an irony.

    My conclusion is that I like the book better without the 'Foreword'.

    Some opinions here.

  5. #25
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    Default Re: Vladimir Nabokov: Lolita

    Yeah, that's what you get when you outsource editorial duties to Nova Zembla, or was it Padukgrad? No, wait it was edited at Estoty, Demonia, I remember now.

    Anyway, it's sad that leaving out the foreword from the book will lead to this little fact not being included in the novel: "Mrs. Richard F. Schiller died in childbed giving birth to a stillborn girl, on Christmas Day 1952, in Gray Star a settlement in the remotest northwest".
    Well, who cares about a minor character of the book, or at least for most of the book?
    Last edited by Cleanthess; 09-Sep-2012 at 03:55.
    To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you, and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations, such is a pleasure beyond compare.
    Yoshida Kenko

  6. #26

    Default Re: Vladimir Nabokov: Lolita

    Quote Originally Posted by Cleanthess View Post
    it's sad that leaving out the foreword from the book will lead to this little fact not being included in the novel: "Mrs. Richard F. Schiller died in childbed giving birth to a stillborn girl, on Christmas Day 1952, in Gray Star a settlement in the remotest northwest".
    Well, who cares about a minor character of the book, or at least for most of the book?
    That's one of the reasons why I said in my post that "Lolita without the 'Foreword' is an entirely different book".

    If we readers weren't told what became of Humbert and what became of Lolita, then what? Would it be a worse book?

  7. #27
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    Default Re: Vladimir Nabokov: Lolita

    You know, I've read the bleeder, and don't remember much beyond selected passages, glimpses. I did look at it a few months ago, because I'd been reading something somewhere about Nabokov's style, and so fished it oui.

    It was one of a number of classics I'd let go to charity shops, most went, a big clear out, but along with Grapes of Wrath and Lolita, a few copies stayed, Heart of Darkness was one of them, telling.

    I'd had 'em around 10 years and the yellowing was beginning to kick in. Acid-free paper, certainly not, but I like paperbacks despite the lack of durability...

    The edtions aspect is more interesting to me these days, I never used to take too much notice of things like 'best translation' or abridged/non-abridged, but seem to be more sensitive to that now. A lot has changed even since the early 2000s, with Amazon it's easier to look at and compare various edtions.
    Last edited by Hamlet; 09-Sep-2012 at 18:02. Reason: typos
    "In fact nothing is said that that has not been said before." -Terence


  8. #28
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    Default Re: Vladimir Nabokov: Lolita

    Quote Originally Posted by Flint View Post
    That's one of the reasons why I said in my post that "Lolita without the 'Foreword' is an entirely different book".

    If we readers weren't told what became of Humbert and what became of Lolita, then what? Would it be a worse book?
    Thank you for clarifying that. I understand your point better now.
    Yes, without the 'Hollywood' ending, where the wicked get punished by meeting bad ends, Lolita is a better, less simple book. Even though it is hard to see what Lolita did that was so wrong, other than refusing to souffler some people at a certain ranch.
    On the other hand, many of us like to see others get their comeuppance. We want to see the fall from grace of the main characters. We can see this urge in the continued popularity of reality TV series like 'behind the music' and 'where are they now', where we are shown how the mighty have fallen.
    In this respect maybe we are a little like the biblical God, who according to Job 40:12 likes to: 'look at all who are high and bring them low,look at all who are proud and humble them'.
    Whenever I read this I can almost picture the look on the face of the angel of the Lord when bringing us down a peg or two:
    To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you, and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations, such is a pleasure beyond compare.
    Yoshida Kenko

  9. #29

    Default Re: Vladimir Nabokov: Lolita

    I've read it for the first time in 2004 and I was really impressed with Nabokov's words & world. Certainly it contains an incredible thme which was managed with genial hability for Nabokov reaching some kind of polemic reactions and reception. Humbert Humbert is a strange stereotype of human beings. I dodn't know how it was shown in Kubricks's adaptin but it is certainly one of the most important of characters of literature world.

  10. #30

    Default Re: Vladimir Nabokov: Lolita

    Quote Originally Posted by shaunrandol View Post
    But for me Lolita is a romance. Not between Humbert Humbert and Lolita, but between Nabokov and English.

    Originally posted here: Quick review: Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita | The Mantle
    OH MY GOD. You summed it up so, so perfectly. (Yes, eight years ago, and I am late to this forum.) In fact, it was probably around 2008 that I first read Lolita, when I was sixteen. Agonizingly confined to a Nowhere, America small town, there was only one place where my friends and I could hang out: our local Books-a-Million. They would go for the coffee, but I would always (I admit!) steal a book or two. (This particular store had no alarm system.) I happened to pluck Lolita from BAM's sad corporate shelves... and I, too, fell in love with English for perhaps the first time.

    Of course, I didn't completely understand it then. The reason I was curious about this particular Lolita thread was because I've picked that masterpiece up again, now, as a young adult with a writing degree (inspired in no small part by Nabokov!). For the past six months I've been typing it out word for word, recording my thoughts (sharing them at dissectinglolita.com). So what you said really, really strikes a cord with me - yes, it is a romance between Nabokov and English, absolutely!! I'm so excited to continue my analysis now with this view... thank you!

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