LT   EN   RU  
Tuesday 30 May 2023 - Independent and informative portal
Register   Login
News subscribe
Subscribe   Unsubscribe
Visits since 2002 09 12 - 69788893
Pages in 40735
The Second Time Through

This is my suggestion about reading Lolita - the first time, delve into it without the benefit of annotations. Read an edition other than Appels, or - if youre a stronger person than I am - simply ignore the numbers in the margin. Digest it for what it is, explore the story, create opinions and thoughts in your own mind. Even the most learned scholar will feel ignorant at times - Nabokov is, unquestionably, a genius of language and allusions - but I cannot stress enough how vital it is to read this book as an outsider. Allow a few...

Annotated version helps a lot

It is actually possible to read the story and make sense out of it without reference to any of the annotations, but almost any reader will be keenly aware of having missed a lot in the process. That is, you dont really miss any of the story without the annotations, but much of what makes Lolita famous is whats going on between the lines, and, unless you speak both English and French and have an encyclopedic knowledge of literature in both languages, you probably wont get more than 10% of this "extra" material without a good set of annotations. As...

A masterpiece of subtle literary meaning

Nabokov has crafted here a work so brilliant it deserves to be put side by side with all the classics of western literary tradition. He towers above the rest with a literary style that can only be described as breathtaking. I will not bother to respond to the idea of Lolita as pornography or as a book of paedophilia. It is a topic not worthy of discussing. The literary allusions in Lolita are so rich and subtle that a reader can reread Lolita dozens of times and still find fresh material to marvel at. Perhaps one of the most directly readable...

Nabokov by Peter Shaw

But there is, in fact, no attempt in Lolita to make Humbert's actions out to be anything but squalid. Nabokov's success lay in maintaining a total artistic absorption in his character, without ever sentimentally excusing his acts. As a result, what Humbert does is despicable: what he is is fascinating. But the moralist insists that we not only punish but also revile the criminal. Furthermore, guilt must be complete: since [Humbert] takes Lolita against her will, by threatening her with incarceration in a reformatory, morally (if one may be allowed to use that word just once) he is not strikingly...

Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov)

Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov) by Stacy Schiff is a one of the best books that I have ever read. It was written in 1999 and received a Pullitzer prize and, as far as I can tell, this books deserves it. Written for the most part as a biography, this book manages to focus it's attention not on the author of "Lolita", but on his wife, Vera Nabokov. A woman who is almost as fascating if not more than her husband, Vladimir Nabokov. She functioned for more than forty years as her husband's secretary, fellow butterfly catcher (Nabokov was a big...

Reading Nabokov, James, Austen, Fitzgerald

Azar Nafisi's memoir once again demonstrates the power of ideas in literature in an oppressive regime (think "Balzac and the Little Chinese Seanstress"). Nafisi is a western educated professor of English literature, who returns to Iran from the US and tries for a long time to live within the confines of the Iranian system. She is persuaded to teach at university and seems to have friends in high places who protect her even as her class explores ideas that aren't orthodox by the standards of the religious government. One senses she grew up in an influential and privileged family, but...

Lolita. Paris, 1955

In 1953, having nearly completed this "enormous, mysterious, heartbreaking novel" after "five years of monstrous misgivings and diabolical labors," Nabokov declared that it "has had no precedent in literature." He embarked on the quest for an American publisher, telling each of five houses - Viking, Simon & Schuster, New Directions, Farrar Straus, and Doubleday - to use the utmost discretion in allowing the manuscript to leave their desks. No one would publish it. The Partisan Review agreed to print a portion of it, but only on the condition that Nabokov sign the work. Fearing that he'd be identified with his...

Early Life and Poems

Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov was born on April 23, 1899, into the "great classless intelligentsia" of old St. Petersburg. His father, Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokov (V. D. Nabokov), a titled aristocrat, was a leader among liberal politicians and advocated democratic principles as a statesman and journalist. His mother, Elena Ivanovna Rukavishnikov, was a cultured and intellectual heiress. Educated at home by tutors and governesses, Nabokov was fluent in Russian, English, and French by the age of seven. When he entered school at eleven, he had already read all of Shakespeare in English, all of Tolstoy in Russian, and all of Flaubert in...

Crimea and Cambridge

Fearing that his two oldest sons - Vladimir, age eighteen, and Sergei, seventeen - would be drafted into the Red Army, V. D. Nabokov sent them from St. Petersburg to the Crimea just after the Bolshevik coup in the fall of 1917. They were soon joined at Gaspra, on the estate of Countess Sofia Panin, by the rest of the family. Despite his father's lifelong political activism and new role as Minister of Justice in the Crimean Provisional Regional Government, Vladimir showed no interest in politics, instead continuing to indulge in butterfly hunts, love affairs, and poetry composition. Between June...

Berlin and Early Translations

In August 1920, the Nabokov family moved to Berlin, where Vladimir would compose all eight of his Russian novels. London had proved much too expensive, and the Berlin economy was attracting Russian émigrés by the tens of thousands. V. D. Nabokov helped to negotiate the birth of a formidable émigré publishing house, Slovo, with the assistance of Ullstein, one of Berlin's largest German presses. He also co-edited Rul', a popular Russian-language daily with a worldwide circulation. From Cambridge, Vladimir began to publish poems, chess problems, even crossword puzzles, in Rul', usually under the pen name "Sirin" to distinguish his work...