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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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Performance
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  •  
    Jim Bellingham, WA, USA 10-26-05
    Jim Bellingham, WA, USA 10-26-05
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    "An Absolutely Gorgeous Audible Experience"

    I have tried to read LOLITA on several occassions, but for whatever reason--probably the dull, midwest monotony of my internal reading voice--have put the book down. I purchased LOLITA (read by Jeremy Irons) with a sense of trepidation (had I just bought something I would never finish?) The book is as impressive as the critics will tell you. Nabokov's language, his ability to fully render a scene, his mind-boggling vocabularly, and his characters--those desperate and beautiful and horrible creatures--are like nothing else in the canon of fiction. Add to this the luxurious experience of Jeremy Irons' voice and you end up with a book--a reading--that will make you shake your head in awe.

    48 of 48 people found this review helpful
  •  
    T. C. Pile Millwood, NY 12-07-08
    T. C. Pile Millwood, NY 12-07-08 Member Since 2004

    audiobookaholic

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Nabokov Narrated with Subtlety"

    This audiobook is completely sustained by the superb and finely attuned narration of Jeremy Irons. While Lolita is and remains a classic of 20th Century literature, this production will allow you to see [hear] a completely new perspective. Irons takes you completely inside the mind of Humbert Humbert, and with skill and subtlety makes you loathe him and sympathize with him at the same time. His tremulous and unspeakable desire mixed with his engulfing shame, his cowardice and his bravery standing side by side, his disregard of social norms tempered by his utter need for secrecy -- all of these conflicts are roiling beneath the surface of the story as it unfolds. This is a performance that only the finest of actors could pull off.

    19 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melissa Seattle, WA, United States 03-03-08
    Melissa Seattle, WA, United States 03-03-08 Member Since 2005
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    "Perfection."

    I find it difficult to believe that any person could give Lolita less than five stars, and the audio performance by Jeremy Irons is beyond masterful. Yes, this is a disturbing book - it is meant to be. Is it pro-pedophilia? Emphatically not. Any person who sticks with the book to the very bitter end comes to realize the true theme of Lolita, and feels the sadness of a lost chance at redemption.

    In my opinion, there has never been a more beautiful, touching, shocking, and profound work of fiction than Lolita. Jeremy Irons as the narrator is just the icing on the cake.

    17 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Victoria Wright The Berkshires, MA 07-12-07
    Victoria Wright The Berkshires, MA 07-12-07 Member Since 2007

    BookmarkServices.net

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Incandescent"

    Nabokov's masterpiece, Lolita, is wistful, erotic, funny, sad, elegiac. Although it is about the passion of an adult male for a female child, it is, at its heart, a heartbreaking love story. With his glorious words (and wordplay), Nabokov paints portraits of his characters and their different longings and pain that are so real and so sympathetic, one is left breathless.

    Jeremy Irons, who was a brilliant Humbert in Adrian Lyne's movie, reads this book into your ear as if he is sitting beside you, wanting more than anything to make you understand how it all happened.

    Lolita is a work of art on the printed page, and also as an audiobook. But don't listen in traffic -- it deserves the listener's rapt, undivided attention.

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Yvette D Woodward Baton Rouge, LA United States 05-28-09
    Yvette D Woodward Baton Rouge, LA United States 05-28-09 Listener Since 2006

    luvmygsds2001

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Surprising good reading"

    This book's subject matter is admitedly an unsavory one to most, however, it is considered in some circles to be a "classic" work and so I resigned myself to reading it. I am glad that I did. I was surprised at how completely I was drawn into the story. This book is very well written and deserving of the serious reader's consideration.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Erez Israel 05-29-08
    Erez Israel 05-29-08 Member Since 2007
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    "A masterpiece"

    It took me a long time to convince myself to "read" this disturbing book, and as soon as I finished the audiobook I went out and bought myself a print version. This book is written with a mastery of language and a chilling insight into the depths of the human soul that make it a true masterpiece. And the narration... If ever there was a perfect match between book and reader, this is it.

    All I can say is: Get this book. You won't regret it.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    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 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim Boston, MA, United States 04-03-08
    Jim Boston, MA, United States 04-03-08 Member Since 2007
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    "Fantastic"

    Jeremy Irons is positively creepy and riveting. I couldn't stop listening.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Parola138 United States 01-26-11
    Parola138 United States 01-26-11 Member Since 2005

    We bite

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "#1"

    Some narrators read a book. However, this one is done with such great passion that I rank it as one of the top five, if not the top #1 for best narration. Though I feel that a book can do little to shock me, somewhat because of modern times and somewhat because I'm a morbid person... this book got under my skin and terrified me in ways that I don't think Stephen King could even touch on. Taking place some sixty years ago... I did not expect it to be as potent today as it might have been back then, but the writing is so good that this is a classic for a reason. Definitely a timeless book. The narrator is what makes it though.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    dallas powassan, Ontario, Canada 12-08-09
    dallas powassan, Ontario, Canada 12-08-09 Member Since 2007
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    "perfect"

    the combination of poetic writing and excellent narration made this a compelling listen. I do was uncomfortable at times with the subject matter, but never bored.
    what I simply can't fathom is that Nabokov's native tongue was not english - this book is pure poetry at times, subtle and delicious.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
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