Recommendations from our site
“What’s spectacular for me is the triumph of the humour over his loathsomeness. You can almost sympathise with his compulsive stream of thought, and if you can’t, you can at least admit to being entertained. Nabokov’s wry reading of America and of Humbert manages to overcome much of what’s repellent in the book.” Read more...
Steven Amsterdam, Novelist
“Lolita is narrated by Humbert Humbert, an older man in his late thirties. He is obsessed with young girls – he calls them “nymphettes” – and he self-confessedly makes it his mission to seduce a nymphette. Sinisterly, he rents a room from a widow called Charlotte Haze, whom he marries basically in order to be near her daughter, Dorothy or “Lolita”, who is only 12 at the start of the story. He eventually seduces her – or in fact she seduces him. It is a very dark novel, but the reason I chose it is because his love for Lolita is so all-consuming that he still loves her when she isn’t a nymphette any more. In some ways I feel he is redeemed by that. Once she is past the nymphette stage of beauty – which he eulogises in a very convincing way, talking about how girls can only be beautiful at that prepubescent moment – he does eventually get over that obsession for what she is as a grown-up.” Read more...
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Ella Berthoud, Psychologist
“It’s more imbued with references to the sun and using the sun as symbol or metaphor – almost a kind of character in the novel – than any other work in literature…..Well, probably I’d say that of major novels of the last 100 years it’s the sexiest. That’s normally quite a good way of convincing someone to read a book. But of course the sun is sexy. Sunbathing and being heated by the sun is all part of sexual allure. So it’s not surprising in some ways that Nabokov should enlist its help. But sunlight and lack of light turns out to have a sinister side in the novel. And really, from Homer through Shakespeare, Dante, Chaucer, major writers have written works using the sun to a great degree. Nabokov therefore is part of a long line.” Read more...
Richard Cohen, Science Writer
We highly recommend the audiobook of Lolita. Jeremy Irons gave a brilliant performance as Humbert Humbert in the 1997 film of Nabokov’s most controversial work. Here, he reprises the role by narrating the whole novel. Irons’ mellifluous voice amplifies the beauty of Nabokov’s writing, while his reading renders the all-at-once sinister, deluded, and preposterous qualities of the character. A must.
Narrator: Jeremy Irons
Length: 11 hours and 28 minutes