Savagely funny and hauntingly sad, Lolita is Nabokov's most famous and controversial novel. It is the story of tortured college professor Humbert Humbert and his dangerous obsession with honey-skinned schoolgirl Dolores Haze.
Determined to possess his "Lolita", Humbert embarks on a disastrous journey across an American landscape littered with fast-food diners, gas stations and lonely motels. Brilliantly evocative and bitingly satirical in its depiction of postwar America, Lolita still has the power to shock and beguile.
©1955 Vladimir Nabokov; (P)2005 Random House Audio
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
Dear reader, listening to this audiobook version of Lolita was a fascinating experience: beautiful and poisonous, loving and loathing, sad and funny, sublime and debased, pure and rotten, refined and vulgar, European and American. The premise, a middle-aged man who is a connoisseur of "nymphets" (pre-pubescent girls with a seemingly "demoniac" and "soul-shattering charm") becomes the step-father of one, may shock or repulse. But Nabokov is unsettlingly effective at making us sympathize with his first-person narrator, Humbert Humbert. The novel is also interesting for being comprised of skewed pieces of various genres: buddy-road-adventure, romance, erotic, metafiction, tragedy, and European critique of America.
There is some French in the novel, but usually the context implies what Humbert is saying.
Jeremy Irons expresses his thorough understanding of Nabokov's novel throughout his reading of it. From the opening foreword by the outrageously pedantic American Dr. John Ray, Jr., followed immediately by the creepy sensual beauty of the opening lines of Humbert's story ("Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta" etc.), Irons' voice helps to seduce the reader more and more into Humbert's head and heart and world than the text does alone. He really becomes Humbert in his various moods, including poetic ecstasy, peevish anger, guilty despair, surreal delirium, and philosophic acceptance. It was a pleasure to hear him speaking in Lolita's vulgar American pre-teen voice one moment and in Humbert's world-weary European aesthete's the next. He also does a fine job with the other supporting characters, like Clare Quilty the amoral and successful playwright who speaks a debauched and effeminate American English that simulates by turns movie gangsters, British upper crusts, or French intellectuals.
Well worth listening to.
Jeremy Irons gives a perfect performance as Humbert Humbert (the narrator & fictional author of the story). His tone creates exactly the right amount of compulsion to listen while remaining a repellent character. If you know you want to read Lolita then this is the version you want.
As for the story, the way Nabokov brings the reader in as co-conspirator is both attractive & repellent. If we do not read Humbert's book, his crimes are not witnessed - possibly never committed. As reader we are complicit in every aspect of his crimes.
It's an incredible tale & we are invited right into Humbert's mind, where we are manipulated much the same way he manipulates everyone else around him.
The prose is remarkable. It is possible that Humbert is the most detested fictional character in the world while his story of "Lolita" is one of the finest stories ever written.
I struggled at the beginning of the book, with the never ending narrative, with no 'speech', but stuck with it an was very pleased I did. Jeremy Irons' narration was great... How could one fail to like his voice? I am also pleased to have discovered Nabokov, as his blend of wit and darkness was wonderful. Excellent.
Some things don't need to be thought over too hard. Here's one of the greatest novels, read exquisitely. Challenging subject matter, divine prose, extraordinary narration. That's all you need know.
Yes, although the story is disgusting, the writing is beautiful.
Jeremy Iron's provided a masterful performance - his narration was artful and gripping.
I wouldn't exactly call this an enjoyable read. It is, however extremely well written and thought provoking, and wonderfully performed by Mr. Irons.
Lolita, because I'd want to hear the story from her point of view.
Difficult to listen to the sections where Humbert Humbert talks about his erotic thoughts and sexual experiences with Lolita.
Clare Quilty's character as his end was so absurd and I just could not take the remaining part of the story seriously.
Quilty scene in the end was so hilarious.
Charlotte Haze was such a tragic character.
I cannot imagine a more fitting narrator than Jeremy Irons for Humbert Humbert.
A wonderful book of great literary significance read by a remarkable narrator/actor. I was never once doubting of the central character who's complex personality was admirably portrayed by Irons.
The central character.
A remarkable rendition of this classic work. A huge talented narration perhaps equal to this great piece of writing. Like Shakespeare performed by the National Theatre. It amply raises this book by making it accessible to many who may have struggled because of its complexity, in addition to the authors intended confusion of reality and paranoia of the mentally insane...or was he?.
Lolita is a classic, a narrative that crosses the social line but never alienates its reader because of it.
Great literature, great rendition. Irons nailed it!
A very interesting storyline and well worth a listen. I did enjoy it and I adore Jeremy Irons being the narrator BUT I found he was talking a bit to fast for my liking so I felt I missed some bits and had to rewind and listen closely.
Still I would recommend it
This book is fantastic. It is written as the confessions of one Humbert Humbert (not his real name) with regards to his relationship with his young step-daughter after the mothers untimely death. This disturbing subject matter is beautifully crafted into a story that is heart-breaking for it's insight into the delusional self-justification of Humbert and the consequence of his actions, whilst at the same time having moments of genuine humour. This dark humour is kept suitably distant from the obscenity of his conduct such that one does not feel guilty for finding mirth amongst such a troubling subject. There is nothing gratuitous in this book and it is a testament to the authors great skill that he can capture so many varied emotions between its covers.
Jeremy Irons' gravelly, plumby, british accent does a fantastic job of Humbert Humberts narrative and in my mind, has set up a dubious association with the great actor for many years to come!
Great book and beautifully narrated by Jeremy Irons. The most pleasant surprise yet on Audible. Fantastic!!
"a truly spellbinding and brilliant book"
Nabokov is a truly great writer (a Nobel prize winner I think); only a great writer could take such a potentially tawdry subject - a middle aged man's obsession with and sexual exploitation of a 12-year old girl - and turn it into a compelling story of the complexity of human relationships without glossing over the darkness, the emptiness and the pain. And the combination of Nabokov's brilliantly fluent and poetical prose and Jeremy Irons' superb narration is such an intoxicating mix - an outstanding audiobook by any yardstick. Superb stuff indeed. I've listened to around 500 audiobooks over the last 15 years and this must be one of the best. Strongly recommended. A genuine 5-star listen.
"Disturbing, dark and (occasionally) funny(!)"
This is the best audiobook I have heard. The delivery is stunning, always on cue and appropriate and really sinks you into the story and the very disturbing mind of HH. Audiobooks of this quality are far better than reading and are more a one person performance than a book reading.
"Disquieting but riveting story"
Jeremy Irons does a marvellous narration of this very unsettling story. It's more explicit than the filmed versions and gets to the heart of the desires of men who crave sexual satisfaction with girls in their early teens. Nabokov's fine writing raises the story from being mere pornography and has created a book with a fine mix of humorous human foibles and vanities coupled with an exploration of perversion and the damage it can cause.
"Captivating - audio at its best!"
This book makes the best of audio: I found myself completely wrapped up in it. Read perfectly by Jeremy Irons, the novel is thrilling, beautiful and shocking all at the same time. It is wonderfully written and Irons voices the language with accomplished skill. Given the subject matter (an exploitative and abusive relationship between a middle-aged man and an attention-seeking young girl), I was surprised at how funny and touching the novel was, and how much I didn't want it to end. Nabokov manages to captivate without titillating, and brings you into his character's mind without ever condoning what he does. This is one that I'll be listening to - and reading - again and again.
This novel stands or falls with the voice you imagine (or hear) as the central character Humbert Humbert. To hear Jeremy Irons bring H.H. to life, in all his preposterous longing, his self-deception, his erudition and cunning, his Old World debauchery and his scepticism towards the popular culture of postwar America, is utterly delightful. I found myself grinning, raising my eyebrows and laughing out loud. Irons' interpretation contributes a great deal to making this a provocative, hilarious and utterly perturbing experience. We are appalled by this character and yet we want to follow him every step of the way; we shouldn't want to read about a middle-aged man longing for a twelve-year-old, and yet we're fascinated by every sentence, complicit in every move. An absolute masterpiece, and a masterly reading. Loved it, loved it, loved it.
"Have Moral Patience"
Thank you Jeremy Irons, Humbert Humbert's voice will always be yours. As the Father of three girls aged between 8 and 15 my listening was very uncomfortable to the half way mark. The writings beauty kept me listening.Slowly the message of the book grew its root structure into my understanding, untill it was fused into my mind. The Nabokov mind had investigated every aspect and drew its consequences so clearly that the colour of the crime was as bright as the blood on Quiltys lips. Its consequences on all the characters was as glass. A wonderful, chilling and throughly suitable book for the modern age.
"OH MY OH MY"
I happened to listen to this book by chance when I was driving to and from work and I was spellbound. Jeremy Irons narrates it beautifully and my heart ached all the way through.
"Voice like silken sin"
This is possibly the best marriage of voice and story in an audiobook. Jeremy Irons can slip from florid praise to exasperated irritation and back again without over-egging either.
As book is written as a first-person narrative by the protagonist, you need a more expressive voice than most stories and this is amply provided here.
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