[BOOK REVIEW] Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov is a book I’ve wanted to read for quite some time but what pushed me to finally do it is My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell coming out to the book scene as well as Putney by Sofka Zinovieff because they are a response to Lolita. I wanted to know what was so controversial about Lolita and then I found out.

I think we all know what Lolita is about but if not here’s the skinny – an older man called Humbert Humbert becomes infatued by a twelve/thirteen year old girl called Dolores Haze or Lolita. From the moment he sets eyes on her on his tenants garden he becomes obsessed with her beauty. What happens later is that Humbert Humbert in his pursuit to win Lolita over does many many things which set a chain of events. I feel like that’s quite a good non-spoilery, if-you-wish-to-know-little-about-the-book description.

I won’t go into length with this review because there’s a lot to go through so I’ll just feature some key points that I found interesting. Before going in I honestly had no idea what to expect because I had in mind that since it was written in 1955 it wouldn’t be that controversial but I was wrong. Having read the book I now get why the public reacted to it the way they did – it is a very controversial subject to write about [especially at that time]. I didn’t expect certain scenes to be described with such precision and depth e.g. sexual parts. I found this book to be very well written and I love how Nabokov made the character of Humbert Humbert somewhat real in a sense that you can see that Humbert is a well-educated man whose actions are so wrong. I feel like if this book were written now it would cause a different sort of reaction because nowadays people don’t shy away from writing the goriest, darkest things. I found the first part of the book to be most compelling but the second part was something I found to be very dry and uninteresting in a way. This will sound weird but I expected more from the story in a way. The ending was something I found to be quite meh. What can one say in the end – it’s an interesting read but definitely not for everyone.

My rating:

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Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov, also known by the pen name Vladimir Sirin, was a Russian-American novelist. Nabokov wrote his first nine novels in Russian, then rose to international prominence as a master English prose stylist. He also made significant contributions to lepidoptery, and had a big interest in chess problems.

Nabokov’s Lolita (1955) is frequently cited as his most important novel, and is at any rate his most widely known one, exhibiting the love of intricate wordplay and descriptive detail that characterized all his works.

Lolita was ranked fourth in the list of the Modern Library 100 Best Novels; Pale Fire (1962) was ranked 53rd on the same list, and his memoir, Speak, Memory (1951), was listed eighth on the publisher’s list of the 20th century’s greatest nonfiction. He was also a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction seven times.