This is the first Nabokov I have "read." He creates his protagonist in rich, elegant writing that almost makes you feel guilty for enjoying it in spite of the content. Irons' narration is excellent.
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Ok first of all, Jeremy Irons. Is. A. God. I would listen to him narrate the phone book to me, and not just because he's Jeremy Irons, but because he really and truly brings this book to life and I know he would make every name in the yellow pages ring with significance and meaning until I cried with the beauty of it all. His every intake of breath is part of the story, every pause is there for a reason, every single syllable is spoken in just the perfect way to put you inside poor Humbert Humbert's sad mind until you start mentally narrating your routine daily life with the same sinister intonations. I honestly believe Irons' narration is superior to his performance in Lolita the film because here you get frontal lobe seats to the nymphet obsessed HH just as Nabokov intended. Second, the story is, and has always been, one of my favorites. Its perversely delightful. All the wrong things happen in this story, and yet Nabokav does it with so much wit and frank honesty that you cant help but laugh out loud as HH details the seedy depths of his intentions and secret dreams. The writing is extraordinary!!! Nabokov submerges you in his prose and takes you to the intimate depths of a world where a pervert's fantasy becomes reality. This is truly a gritty experience that leaves you dusty from sitting between HH and Lola on their cross-country motel spree.
This was the best audible book I ever listened to. The narrator was the best. I enjoyed the story so much. I listened to it twice. Don't skip this one.
This book builds slowly and subtlety from the diary of a 40-year old sophisticated, intelligent European man, who finds, isolates, and abuses a 12-year old American girl, to an emotionally intense, regretful, despairing self-criticism of his actions. I listened to this book twice, to completely understand the plot, the appearance of another older man, the second motor trip to the west, Lolita’s escape, the meeting two years later, when Lolita is 17, and the death of Humbert Humbert, Clare Quilte, and Dolores Schiller. Vladimir Nabokov’s prose is excruciatingly articulate – speaking of the world of total evil, being drunk on the impossible past, looking for the evidence of a supreme being in the darkness of his own sin, and H.H.’s thoughts, evoked by looking down on a town in the mountains where only the sound of children playing can be heard. The author’s own thought are difficult to discern and this makes reading Lolita a test of your own attitude about the plot. H.H., however, considers himself to be a monster who was cheated of his only chance at redemption when Clare Quilte helped Lolita escape from him. Only when the harm has been done, does he realize that he loves the child and even the dead-leaf echo of that nymphet at age 17.
The perfect narration for such a hauntingly beautiful book. With such rich description and so sensitive and intimate a psychology - reading Lolita is a must. My only regret was my inability to understand (or look up at the time, as I was on an airplane) the french phrases scattered throughout.
I just don't know what to rate this book. As far as the writing itself, it was beautifully written. But the story, frankly, made me a little sick to my stomach. It is the story of a pedophile who is so crazy about this 12 year old girl that he marries her mother so he can have access to her. You start to believe that Lolita welcomes this until she gets a good chance to run away, and then she is gone. By then she is more like 16 or 17. Well this man is certifiably crazy, although he puts on a great exterior. He is educated, handsome, extremely polite and thoughtful. In short, someone who would be attractive to most women, and certainly to young girls. My heart just breaks for Lolita, whose real name is Dolores. He just starts calling her Lolita. It somehow evolves from her nickname of "Lo" into the more seductive sounding Lolita. What she must have gone through!!
Now with that said, I come back to the writing itself. Yes it is beautiful. It is even tastefully done. There are no graphic details other than a kiss, but of course it is extremely suggestive. It seems to me that it takes a lot more skill to suggest what is going on than it does to spell it all out. This book is tastefully written. I guess my heart breaks for Humbert as well. It is truly a sad, sad book. Haven't had something affect me like this since "Tess of the d'Urbervilles." I don't recommend either book, btw, not unless you are into heavy, sad but beautifully written books. I think I have to give this book three stars, sort of in the middle of things, because I sit the fence on it. I can't say that I'm sorry I read it, but it makes me sick to think about it very much.
I am sure one of the reasons I continued with this book is Jeremy Irons' narration. He is, as you would expect, a fabulous narrator. It is easy to fall in love with him. So, fabulous writing, fabulous narration, but sad story equals at the very least an interesting book. I know I should give it a five if I were true to my formula which is, if a book changes my life, it is an automatic 5, even if I didn't like it so much. But something just prevents me from doing that. I will always remember this book, but I will never read it again.
One of the greatest books I have read or to which I have listened. Many will criticize the the troubling nature of the narration and plot, but the ability to evoke such pity and revulsion at the same time is a credit to Nabokov's writing and Irons' performance. Rare is a work as engrossing and powerful as this while also troubling, thought provoking, and emotionally riveting. If you haven't yet read or listen to this book, do so today.
I read this book years ago and liked it just fine, but didn't really see what all the fuss was about. This recording made me understand. Jeremy Irons is nasty, hilarious and (surprisingly) heartbreaking. I can not recommend this book highly enough.
I read Lolita years ago, and thought it sordid and smug then. Via the Kubrick movie I came back to it and discovered this version on Audible. I can't say how much of a difference Jeremy Irons' reading makes. He brings out the best in the book's hypnotic language, and brings the basic conflicts of the book to the reader in the most direct way - HH's smugness and perversity, but also his appeal, his sweetness. Irons portrays the shifts of emotion with perfect accuracy. While the book itself will always be an uncomfortable and to some extent unpleasant read, it is a masterpiece, and this reading is quite possibly the best of any audiobook I have read.