The best sellers page on this site makes me very sad.
Tragic, hilarious, desperately dark, and devastatingly beautiful, Lolita is a work of incomparable genius. Nabokov's love of language and mastery of the craft flow through every facet of the text. In his written world, wordplay is a deadly game, and the Old Russian plays with words like a predator with its prey, drawing blood with each deft stroke of the pen. I have read Lolita every year or so for many years, and each reading reveals new joys and sorrows awaiting discovery in the narrative like hidden gems.
I was a bit apprehensive about hearing the book I love so dearly read aloud by someone else, but Jeremy Irons' superbly adept reading is an asset rather than a liability. His narration does not encumber Nabokov's brilliant narrative, but allows the words to leap from the page to shimmer and dance the way they were meant to. It is not often that I would recommend an audio version of a book as highly as the written one, but in this case I most wholeheartedly will. Everyone should read Lolita, or at the very least, have Jeremy Irons read it to you.
I knew the subject matter of course. What I didn't know was that every word in this book was perfectly chosen, and tells a story of desire that left me reeling. I didn't know I could love the character while not approving of his choices or actions. I understand why this book has been listed as one of the 100 best fiction books ever written. If you haven't read it, do.
A fantastic difficult book that is not without flaws but that must be read. The comedy of the first few chapters (and the final chapters) is matchless. But Nabokov also carries us to darker waters. There is more than one book in Lolita -- there's satire and tragedy and even social philosophy. While all the while the language dazzles.
Long before Lolita, and continuing to this day -- there is a minor European literature devoted to sneering at America... most of it perpetrated by pompous bores such as Jean Baudrillard with little to say about anything but themselves. But Nabakov, ever original, turns that whole literature on its head, giving us in Humbert Humbert a European transplant of magnificent effete depravity, a parody of himself and european self-importance even as he bears witness to the stupidities and vulgarities of America. It changes everything when the little man at the foot of the giant roadside lumberjack is the more absurd of the pair!
Jeremy Irons does not merely read the text but gives a tireless and meticulous performance. He seems intent on wringing every nuance from Humbert's mad monologue. It is not a reading but an act of interpretive art delivered at the highest level. It is a gift to us. I have never written a performer fan mail but I intend to write Mr. Irons one for this performance. I hope this doesn't make it seem Mr. Irons' performance was overwrought; it is nothing like that. It is a miracle of restraint and intelligence.
Lolita is an interesting story. But some of the style of the writing really makes it confusing and hard to follow at times. Jeremy Irons breathes life into the performance and makes it believable. Unfortunately that is not enough to bring it to the quality and height that I would have liked.
The use of language is exquisite. The story itself is disturbing, and perhaps, that's a good thing. I often had this strong repugnant feeling as the main character was describing his delight in "nymphets." I've had two different men that worked for me, many years ago, convicted of pederasty, and the dialogue reminds me of conversations I had with these men, which had this undertone of my discomfort. I gave those men the benefit of the doubt, and couldn't fathom their love of the "young" actually meaning what it sounded like they meant. The language makes the novel worthwhile, but I do think I've had more profitable uses of my reading time. Did I miss something here?
Jeremy Irons has taken one of the greatest novels ever written in the English language and made it better. My inner reading voice doesn't hold a candle to his--- Nabokov himself with his shambling sputtery delivery (as can be heard on old recordings) does not capture HH as Irons does...
Irons's accent shimmers with intelligence, breeding, refinement...and his deep, world-weary voice has sinister notes. This combination reflects HH's suave European aspect and his lurking criminality.
Nabokov packed his sentences with irony and humor some of which is difficult to recognize. Jeremy Irons does a wonderful job of drawing out those nuances.
I have read this book three times and listened twice... even so, the performance does so much to bring this to life that I found myself rewinding a lot... just to listen again to the sentences and to the delivery...
I first listened to this recording on cassette about ten years ago. I was once asked in some context or other for my favorite works of art or performance of all time; I listed this reading in my top five. It remains.
I sort of wish annotated versions of novels would be recorded in audio form... Lolita is a prime prospect for this treatment. What do you think the likelihood is of getting Jeremy Irons to come back to record a stack of footnotes?
Right. I won't hold my breath either.
I think this is the first time that I've genuinely preferred the narrated version to actually reading the novel. Irons is that good - his grasp of the emotional impact, absurdity and tragedy of different parts of the novel is evident throughout.
I have been "re-reading" books via audible during my commute these past few years, and without question this is one of my favorites. Nabokov was a genius, and no body does it better than Irons.
Definitely. Mesmerizing writing.
Not scene, but the writers descriptions every time he describes his feelings on Lolita.
A favorite doesn't come to mind right now.
I'm not doing this.
Brilliant disturbing rapturous
When Lolita leaves him
Many reactions and it raised many philosophical issues within myself
A must read to challenge oneself
The storyline was exciting, not just the strange love story but the adventure that went with it and Jeremy Iron's great narrating performance.
The controversial perspective of a pedophile and nabokov's excellent job at making a sick man turn into an innocent man, confused but that deserves sympathy.
This was my first time listening. His performance was so good that I downloaded another book narrated by him.
For sure! But couldn't because it is 11 hours long.