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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 (1992 )
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  •  
    Jennifer Cuayhoga Falls, OH, United States 05-29-12
    Jennifer Cuayhoga Falls, OH, United States 05-29-12 Member Since 2009

    Tell us about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Delightfully devious."

    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.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gary Camarillo, Ca 05-15-09
    Gary Camarillo, Ca 05-15-09
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    "Surprisingly good"

    I don't know what I was thinking when I thought about buying this one. The cover made me feel like a pervert. I saw the movie some years back and I remember not liking it. It was just a bad movie, in my opinion. Jeremy Irons was the main character in the movie and I found it interesting that he is the reader of this book. He has a pleasing voice and his talents shine here, much more so then when he played the role of the main character. The book is considered the #4 best written of the 20th Century and was ultimately the reason I was able to put away my initial disgust and ultimately buy it. A flimsy reason really, I know. I was surprised how much I liked it. The characters story was engaging in a pathetic sort of way. He is trapped by his own fatal flaw(everyone has them but his is certainly disgusting) and I have to admit it was fascinating to hear his thoughts, his justifications and in the end his regret. I found the overall story entertaining but I was at times repulsed by it. Still, I do believe in the general consensus that this is one of the best books of the 20th Century, even if the subject matter made me squirm.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeffrey Seattle, WA, USA 02-26-09
    Jeffrey Seattle, WA, USA 02-26-09
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    "Perfect - A must-read (or listen?)"

    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.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deborah New York, NY, USA 10-31-06
    Deborah New York, NY, USA 10-31-06
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    "FANTASTIC"

    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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    V. T. Carson Connecticut 01-26-06
    V. T. Carson Connecticut 01-26-06 Member Since 2004

    Audiobook Raven

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Redemption Lost"

    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.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amie Seattle, WA, USA 10-16-05
    Amie Seattle, WA, USA 10-16-05
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    "H.H.'s Passion"

    Reader captures all of the feeling and wit of Nabokov's writing. A wonderful book, and a great listen. Captivating all the way through.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elisa Kingston, NY, USA 10-08-07
    Elisa Kingston, NY, USA 10-08-07 Member Since 2007
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    "deeply deliciously disturbing"

    If anyone has ever read a novel better than Jeremy Irons has read Lolita, I'd surely like to know about it. Mr. Irons IS Humbert, shameful, deceitful, dreadful, tortured, overwhelmed by uncontrollable longing and guilt. The story, of course, is a classic. Now so is his reading of it. Nabakov himself would be astounded.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mynt Washington, DC 02-23-06
    Mynt Washington, DC 02-23-06 Member Since 2005

    Mynt

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    "Written like poetry, read like poetry"

    An engaging, beautiful scripted book. The reader sounds like a clasically trained actor and he speaks it as though he's thinking it up himself. The best audiobook yet!

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Utah 08-29-12
    Amazon Customer Utah 08-29-12 Member Since 2009

    tired teacher

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    "A sad, sad book"

    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.

    21 of 25 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas Oregon, Ohio, United States 08-10-12
    Thomas Oregon, Ohio, United States 08-10-12 Member Since 2004
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    "Made me feel a little dirty"
    What made the experience of listening to Lolita the most enjoyable?

    This is a dark story, and while it was artfully told, I went out of my way to make sure that no one could hear what was on my car radio. A bit on the sinister side . . . and Jeremy Irons was fantastic. He is a little hard to understand in the beginning, but he gets better.


    What other book might you compare Lolita to and why?

    I can not think of anything that is remotely like Lolita


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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