Audiobook Review – Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Posted February 2, 2013 by Bonnie in Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 / 6 Comments

Audiobook Review – Lolita by Vladimir NabokovLolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Narrator: Jeremy Irons
Published by Random House Audio on June 27th 2006 (first published 1955)
Length: 11 hours and 32 minutes
Genres: Classics, Cultural, Literary Fiction, Romance, Russian
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library


When it was published in 1955, Lolita immediately became a cause célèbre because of the freedom and sophistication with which it handled the unusual erotic predilections of its protagonist. But Vladimir Nabokov's wise, ironic, elegant masterpiece owes its stature as one of the twentieth century's novels of record not to the controversy its material aroused but to its author's use of that material to tell a love story almost shocking in its beauty and tenderness.

Awe and exhilaration--along with heartbreak and mordant wit--abound in this account 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, but most of all, it is a meditation on love--love as outrage and hallucination, madness and transformation."

‘It was love at first sight, at last sight, at ever and ever sight.’

Lolita is likely one of the most controversial stories in 20th century literature to date. Lolita has been coined as a ‘love story’ and even ‘erotic’. In all honesty, this was simply Humbert attempting to convince himself (and others) that his actions were normal and completely justified. By the end pages, I could honestly say that Humbert believed wholeheartedly he truly loved Lolita, that he always had the best of intentions for her and that he was a good father to her. His version of love was of course far from normal and was quite sick and twisted indeed but because we’re only seeing this story from his point of view it’s obviously a biased and glamorized interpretation.

‘We live not only in a world of thoughts, but also in a world of things. Words without experience are meaningless.’

But to me that was the most amazing part of this story. When you really think about this story as a whole, you know what he did was wrong, you know that he changed that 12 year-old girl irrevocably and you can almost despise him for the fact that he blamed her for seducing him initially. However, despite all that, I know I’m not the only reader that struggled to not feel at least a slight bit of sympathy for him. And that’s the true brilliance of it.

‘And the rest is rust and stardust.’

Lolita is a truly remarkably written story that was undoubtedly shocking after its initial publication in 1955. I can’t help but find it severely unlikely though that it would have ever been published during this day and age.



6 responses to “Audiobook Review – Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

  1. I've have yet to read this or even watch a screen version. I may watch a screen version someday, like the one with Jeremy Irons, but I doubt I'll read this. Classics or older literature and me have a shaky relationship. Wonderful review, Bonnie. 🙂

  2. miss_bonnie13

    I actually started off reading this one but found it to supremely difficult to follow and stay interested in and ended up actually switching to the audiobook which is narrated by Jeremy Irons. I enjoyed that version a lot better and am not positive I would have ever gotten through it by just reading it. Thank you, Rachel!

  3. It's an interesting point about the likelyhood of a book like Lolita being published today. I've heard it mooted a few times, and I wonder what makes it less likely to appear today, than in the more constrained social atmosphere of the 1950s?
    My recent post Review: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

  4. […] Lolita by Nabokov (brilliant) and The Nose by Gogol (strange) are the only Russian lit books I’ve ever read so clearly that needs some fixing. In an attempt to branch out, I discovered Day of the Oprichnik by this author which is described as a dystopian satire. I have yet to read it but The Blizzard mentions a post-apocalyptic world and zombies so of course this one is also going on my TBR shelf. […]

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