Book Review–Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov


This is the 64th book from my 200 Book Reading Challenge.

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Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Published 1955

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.


I decided to read Lolita in celebration of Banned Books Week since I’ve always wanted to read it and it is on the top ten list. Of course I knew basically what the book was about, but it’s a lot deeper than I was expecting.

Vladimir Nabokov is a great writer; his words flowed beautifully. He also made the main character, Humbert Humbert, sympathetic despite his great sins.

The only thing that I disliked about his writing was the random French that was thrown in. Since I do not know French, I had to use Google Translate to get an idea of what he was saying, but I found sometimes he also threw in German and other languages. After a while, I grew tired of having to translate the terms and simply ignored them. Especially since it seems that the kindle version of this novel is full of errors.

As for the story itself, I really liked Part I. It held my attention. However, I felt that Part 2 was a really slow read and it bogged down the story. Things got more exciting toward the end, but it seemed to happen too fast; I had to go back and re-read the next to last chapter because I felt things happened so fast.

Character-wise, I liked our unreliable narrator, Humbert Humbert, despite the things he did. I didn’t really care for anyone else as I feel I didn’t get to know them well enough, though I did feel bad for Charlotte.

As for Lolita herself, maybe it’s just me or the way Humbert portrays her, but I really didn’t care for her too much though I obviously felt bad for the terrible things that were happening to her. Her character did seem to be somewhat realistically portrayed based on her age.

I feel that a lot of this went over my head, but I have enjoyed it for what it is. It’s definitely an interesting and intriguing read, full of many things to analyze. I don’t imagine I will re-read Lolita, but if I do, hopefully I will gleam even more the second time around. And if I don’t end up re-reading, I hope to encounter Nabokov’s writing again.




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