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Lolita | [Vladimir Nabokov]

Lolita

Why we think it’s a great listen: Among the great literary achievements of the 20th century, Lolita soars in audio thanks to the incomparable Jeremy Irons, bringing to life Nabokov’s ability to shock and enthrall more than 50 years after publication. Lolita became a cause celebre because of the erotic predilections of its protagonist. But Nabokov's masterpiece owes its stature not to the controversy its material aroused but to its author's use of that material to tell a love story that is shocking in its beauty and tenderness.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential: Award-winning actor Jeremy Irons portrayed this novel's nymphet-obsessed professor in a filmed adaptation, so it is not surprising he is able to negotiate Nabokov's dense, refined, and fiery prose with great facility. Irons' mastery reminds me of a conductor who studies a score for years and then knows inately how to communicate it to an audience, note-perfect from beginning to end. If you're looking for a fine example of great literature that comes across better in audio than it does on the printed page, you've found it. –Corey Thrasher

Publisher's Summary

When it was published in 1955, Lolita immediately became a cause celebre 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 20th 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 that is 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 — as outrage and hallucination, madness and transformation.

(P)2005 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Lolita is an authentic work of art which compels our immediate response and serious reflection, a revealing and indispensable comedy of horrors." (San Francisco Chronicle)
"Language is essential to Lolita, and Mr. Irons captures Humbert's voice perfectly. In the Random House audiobook, he read the novel with a sensitivity to the language that conveys all of Nabokov's humor, passion, and lyricism." (The New York Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (1934 )
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  •  
    John Richmond, VA, USA 08-23-08
    John Richmond, VA, USA 08-23-08 Member Since 2007
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    "You couldn't ask for more!"

    This is one of the greatest 20th-century novels read by one of the best living actors. I loved it. The story is engrossing and Nabokov's play with language delicious. Of course, it's a totally depraved story, basically of statutory rape and child abduction. But getting inside the perpetrator's head like we do is fascinating, especially as one can sympathize, or at least empathize, with him.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    alanterra 10-28-07
    alanterra 10-28-07 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "It doesn't get better than this"

    Jeremy Irons, Vladimir Nabokov, and darling Lo--how can you go wrong? Listen, concentrate, imagine, enjoy.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Plymouth, MA, United States 10-14-13
    Michael Plymouth, MA, United States 10-14-13 Member Since 2007

    51 year old electrical engineer who's always got going, one book to inspire, another to learn and one just to escape - ok 2 just to escape

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    "don't be afraid to say what you think"

    When I was a kid, I took piano lessons. Julliard pre-college as a matter of fact. Practiced ridiculous hours, no hanging out with the gang for me, the whole 9 yards of the ostensibly precocious but really one who is living the dream of a parent and pushed to do so. Anyway, one day, after butchering a piece by Bach, my task master teacher gave me one of his signature speeches about the great Bach. In a moment of bravery, I told him that I thought Bach sucked. This did not go over well. In fact it resulted in a domino effect involving more lectures from him and also from my parents after the son of a bitch turned me in for this heinous crime. I'm 51 now, and I've given Bach a fair chance. Honestly, I don't hold a grudge. But you know what? I don't like Bach. I don't enjoy listening to Bach, Bach is like an instant extra strong sleeping pill for me. And for me, though I have no doubt of his genius, for me, Bach really does suck. SO what does that have to do with Lolita. I tell you what it has to do with Lolita. People love to tell us what is supposed to have value for us. When a lot of people agree that something has value, they call that thing a classic. Suddenly, if you don't like it, you're an ignoramus. Having established the fact that I am in fact a big fat ignoramus already, I feel free to tell you that Lolita sucks! It's boring, the main character is demonstrably a perverted asshole and I simply found it to be a miserable, depressing drudgery of a book. It fucking sucks! So there!

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kelly Houston, TX, United States 04-28-12
    Kelly Houston, TX, United States 04-28-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Humbert Insufferable"
    What disappointed you about Lolita?

    The main character, Humbert Humbert, is an insufferably smug, effete, verbose piece of Eurotrash. We're supposed to hate him because he's a pedophile, but he spends so much time justifying himself that I wanted to stomp him to death for that. He NEVER owns up to being a creep. The entire book is his plea to be accepted into the country club again after what he considers a trifling faux pas. I you don't want to kick Humbert to death after listening to him blather for 5 hours, then you have as little feeling as he does.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    All of the scenes in which Lolita treats Humbert like garbage.


    What character would you cut from Lolita?

    The narrator


    Any additional comments?

    It's brilliant and daring writing, but Nabakov has created a character more loathsome than Dracula. At least the Count didn't put up a pretense of being a fundamentally decent guy.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    YeonA Seongnam City, Korea (South) 05-26-13
    YeonA Seongnam City, Korea (South) 05-26-13 Member Since 2012
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    "The most appropriate reading."

    Jeremy Irons had done a splendid job in the movie version of this book and here he seems to bring out Nabokov's genius just the same. The language is beautiful and to hear the French and the English smoothly displayed by his handsome voice is very enjoyable.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Aaron P. Lazar Geneseo, New York, United States 04-23-13
    Aaron P. Lazar Geneseo, New York, United States 04-23-13 Member Since 2010

    mystery writer

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    "A Strange and Literary Journey"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    It would depend. This book is long and sometimes torturous, extremely literary (i.e. many words not commonly known by today's average reader, and many excursions into strange side lines). I think today's reader might find it too long and (sorry to say) boring in places. I found the poetry of the author's words to be quite beautiful. The topic was terribly disturbing, of course, but the view inside the predator's mind was fascinating.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I loved Jeremy Irons' narration. His inflections were beautifully done and his French was perfect! Kudos for a wonderful job.


    Which character – as performed by Jeremy Irons – was your favorite?

    Since the book was told in first person, it would be hard to choose anyone other than the main character - "Humbert". I loved how he depicted Dolores (Lo, Lola, Lolita) but the disturbing inner mind of H. was the best!


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No way. It was too long, too hard to assimilate except in bursts of say one hour each. I know this probably goes against all literary history, since the book was on a top 100 list for the century, or something like that, LOL. But compared to today's fiction, it was heavy and hard to get through at times. That said, I still enjoyed the process!


    Any additional comments?

    I normally listen to mysteries, suspense, thrillers, etc. So I suppose my opinions here are limited in scope. If I always listened to literary fiction I would likely have been better prepared. I only bought it because it was on sale for $4.95 and I liked the sample from Mr. Irons! LOL.

    Also, I'd like to say that as a father of three girls, I really had a hard time with the narrator's sick perversion - his sexual attraction to young girls made me very upset. I tried hard to put the thoughts away and tell myself it was just fiction, but I struggled with that quite a bit. So be forewarned if this stuff bothers you, even fictionally!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marc SOUTHINGTON, CT, United States 02-09-13
    Marc SOUTHINGTON, CT, United States 02-09-13 Member Since 2002
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    "Time has changed drastically since its publishing"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    No I wouldn't, I have seen and heard true life stories that were much more shocking and scandalous than this.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    The ending was no surprise.


    Was Lolita worth the listening time?

    I didn't think so.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Inesa United States 01-29-13
    Inesa United States 01-29-13
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    "Jeremy Irons Brings H.H. to Life"
    If you could sum up Lolita in three words, what would they be?

    intriguing, perverse, honest


    What did you like best about this story?

    The pure rawness of it.


    Which character – as performed by Jeremy Irons – was your favorite?

    Humbert Humbert of course. His American accents sound a bit odd but HH was always on point.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Sometimes it was disgusting, but that is kind of the point I suppose.


    Any additional comments?

    Jeremy Irons transforms the story of Lolita that any Nabokov fan would enjoy

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chimommy Portland, OR 01-09-13
    Chimommy Portland, OR 01-09-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Not What I Expected"

    First, let me say that Jeremy Irons is an absolutely AMAZING narrator! The life and emotion he gave to the perfomance was outstanding. It was like he was talking to you, not reading a book. His speed varied, his inflection was perfect and, of course, his accent is perfect. Even though the subject matter is absolutely disgusting he brought a life to this classic that enthralled me.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jaye GREENWICH, CT, United States 02-02-12
    jaye GREENWICH, CT, United States 02-02-12 Member Since 2012

    AUDIBLE MAKES READING POSSIBLE AND EASY FOR ME...I AM VISUALLY IMPAIRED. I WISH THEY HAD ALL THE BOOKS I WANT I WOULD SNAP THEM UP!

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    "a good idea for a book but way too long winded"
    What did you like about this audiobook?

    the real story got muddled in a lot of unnecessary details. the real story was not told at all. i felt i did not even know the main characters at the end of the book. more attention to the main characters and a more central plot is needed.

    i did not know what lolita was thinking. and the main character was shallow (a pun but i mean that he did not come across as real).


    How has the book increased your interest in the subject matter?

    not at all. i would not read the book. i would watch the movie tho.


    Does the author present information in a way that is interesting and insightful, and if so, how does he achieve this?

    no


    What did you find wrong about the narrator's performance?

    the narrator was fine.


    Do you have any additional comments?

    if i could know more about what was in lolita's mind, and what happened to her before her mother remarried, i mite like it better. the

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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