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Nabokov's novel "Lolita"
Nabokov's novel "Lolita"

Today, the work of Vladimir Nabokov is perceived as a classic of world literature. Many of his works have been filmed and do not leave the theater stages of the world. It is hard to believe that the writer was not known in his homeland for a long time. In America, Nabokov became notorious as the author of the "pornographic" Lolita.

nabokov lolita

The background of the novel "Lolita"

Nabokov's novel, which brought fame to the writer, has a long prehistory. The first twelve chapters of the future "Lolita" were written by the author in 1946 under the title "Kingdom by the Sea". In his letters, he wrote that he was working on an essay about a man who loved little girls. He soon put this work aside and returned to it only in 1949.

According to the writer, the novel was written intermittently, very slowly. A couple of times the author almost burned the draft. But he was stopped by the thought that the spirit of the unwritten book would continue to haunt him until the end of his days. In 1954, having completed the novel Lolita, he began to look for publishers. Attemptsto publish the book in America ended in complete failure - it was rejected by four publishers, who motivated their refusal by the fact that they would be "sent to jail" for publishing this novel.

One of the writer's friends admitted that this novel is "prose of the highest standard", but he flatly turned out to publish it. Nabokov applied to several more publishing houses, but was refused everywhere - everyone was afraid of a scandalous trial.

First publication

Desperate to publish Lolita in the US, Vladimir Nabokov sent the manuscript to a Parisian publisher. Its reputation was dubious, but its head, after reading Lolita, felt that the novel was destined to become the greatest work of modern literature. The manuscript was immediately sent to typesetting and published in 1955.

Until the scandal around Lolita broke out in the English press, neither critics nor readers showed much attention to the novel. The stormy disputes of famous writers made the novel such an advertisement that the author of Lolita could not even dream of. English readers immediately sold out the book's 5,000th edition.

lolita nabokov vladimir

World famous

Soon, filtering through customs, the novel appeared in America. Prices for a semi-legal book smuggled in from France skyrocketed. In the press, notes and reviews began to appear one after another. In total, Nabokov's Lolita received about two hundred and fifty responses. The excitement intensified after, at the request of the British Ministry in France, they seizedbook products of the publishing house that published Lolita.

The French press came to the defense of the novel. While in France the head of the publishing house was fighting against a ban on the book, in June 1957 the American magazine Encore Review published a fragment from Nabokov's Lolita. Soon, a real hunt began for the author of the book - the publishers bombarded him with offers. In 1958 Lolita was published in America. In a short time, the circulation of the book broke all records, "Lolita" became the best-selling book.

The little-known Nabokov instantly became a world famous author. After many failures, Nabokov was finally lucky - the writer conquered the American public. In the USSR, the book was branded as "pornographic", and publication was out of the question. But the writer nevertheless created a Russian version, published in 1967 in the United States. Nabokov's Lolita seeped through the Iron Curtain very quickly and was distributed illegally for many years. Only after perestroika, in 1989, the book became available to a wide readership.

book lolita vladimir nabokov

About Lolita

An unthinkable story about the love of an adult man for a twelve-year-old girl shocked the public. The release of Lolita caused a flurry of reviews, which were divided into two camps. Some argue that "Lolita" is frankly obscene. The story of a pedophile's criminal attraction to a little girl is outrageous in itself. But everything shows that the author also sympathizes with him. But the most outrageous thing is that the author encourages readers to do the same.

Others believe that the workNabokov is not an erotic novel in the usual sense of the word, but a sad story about the power of vulgarity and human passions. In the book "Lolita" by Vladimir Nabokov, there is a lot of sad and deep things about the dark sides of a person. His heroes are trying to escape from the ordinary world and make a jump into the realm of freedom. Nabokov's characters are attracted by the limit of what is permitted, and their actions are a breakthrough from the crampedness of our world. It is the falsity, stuffiness and vulgarity of life that the writer brilliantly describes.

What about the author? Nabokov always considered Lolita to be his best book. He was convinced that this was a serious work, and not a lewd and obscene book. All categories in the novel are conditional, there is no clear boundary between them. And if a certain element of obscenity is permissible for a comedy of manners, then the pornography in Lolita is not an image taken out of context, it is a tragedy. And the obscene and the tragic are mutually exclusive.

lolita roman nabokov

Reader opinions

Readers' reviews of Nabokov's Lolita were also divided into completely opposite opinions. The former are sure that the novel is magnificent, although the author has chosen a complex and difficult topic. Perhaps, having come out from the pen of another writer, this poignant and sad love story, doomed, crazy, sick, would only evoke repulsive feelings. But the talented master is ornate and simply puts words into phrases.

Amazing style of narration, the author's style is addictive - you continue to read this provocative book and you understand that Humbert is undoubtedly unpleasant and immoral. But it's unfortunate and sickman with his passion. He is cowardly and afraid that his thoughts would remain thoughts without harming the nymphets that he met everywhere - in buses, parks, yards. And only Lolita became his unfulfilled dream. Living on his obsession, Nabokov's hero ended up experiencing the agonizing feeling that Lolita had become the shadow of someone he had killed. This love became a kind of retribution for him.

Other readers in their reviews of the book "Lolita" write that the plot of the book is unpleasant. After the words that Nabokov's heroine Lolita "was twelve", everything else seems to be a perversion. Although many of them agree that this novel makes you think about the morality of the younger generation, as well as about your own. The novel encourages thinking about the disastrous consequences that come as a result of the lack of proper education and vigilance on the part of parents. This book is not just a story about forbidden love, but rather a powerful moralizer.

Perhaps the summary below will help to judge both of them, and also encourage reading the original. But one can give a worthy assessment of the work only after reading the full version of Nabokov's Lolita.

nabokov lolita heroes

Meeting Dolores

Humbert Humbert is a teacher of French literature. At thirty-seven, he has an unusual attraction to nymphets - that's how he calls charming girls from nine to fourteen years old. Childhood impression turned him away from mature women. In prison, he writes a confession about the events that took place in the summer of 1947. Ten years beforehe lived in Paris with his wife. On the eve of her departure for America, she left him and fled with a Russian émigré colonel. Humbert was treated in American sanatoriums for melancholy.

Emerging from the hospital, he rented an apartment with Charlotte Hayes in New England. The mistress of the house had a twelve-year-old daughter, Dolores. She reminded Humbert of his childhood love. It was after her loss that his erotic life took on such a strange attraction. The lingering lust that he feels for the girl, Humbert entrusted to the pages of his diary. In the summer, her mother sends Lolita to the camp and writes a letter to Humbert. She confesses her love to her guest and says that if he does not share her feelings, then let him leave the house.

After some hesitation, Humbert marries Lolita's mother. After all, now nothing will prevent him from communicating with the girl. After the wedding, Charlotte confides in Humbert her plans for Lolita. She intends to send her daughter to Beardsley College. In a fit of anger, he wants to drown his wife in the lake. But, to his regret, he cannot do this, because an artist neighbor is looking at them from the top of the hill.

nabokov lolita description

Lolita Escape

Charlotte finds the diary and exposes Humbert. While he is considering how to get out of this situation, Mrs. Humbert writes letters. In tears, she runs to send them and gets hit by a car. Humbert goes for Lolita after the funeral. He tells the girl that her mother is in critical condition in the hospital. After picking up Lolita from the camp, at the inn, he gives her sleeping pills to enjoy the sleeping girl. But the drugsact badly, Lolita sleeps restlessly. In the morning, after waking up, she seduces her stepfather. To Humbert's amazement, she was not a virgin. At the camp, she "tried" it with the boss's son.

Soon the stepfather reveals to the girl that her mother has died. During the year they travel around America. He bribes the girl with trinkets and threatens to send her to an orphanage if she turns him in to the police. They often quarrel, and Humbert understands that this relationship does not bring him true happiness. Soon he sends Lolita to a private gymnasium in Beardsley. In January 1949, the girl turns fourteen years old. She loses the charm of nymphetism. Increasingly, he demands money and, as it seems to his stepfather, hides them in order to escape from him.

In the gymnasium, the girl became interested in theater and, while rehearsing a play, fell in love with its author, playwright Quilty. Humbert, sensing something was wrong, takes the girl away from the gymnasium a week before the premiere. In the summer they go to travel around America. Suspicions of treason constantly haunt Humbert, and he does not leave Lolita for a minute. One day he noticed a cherry-colored Cadillac chasing them. It featured actors: Lolita cheats on her stepfather along with her playwright lover's accomplices. In Elphinstone, a girl with a high fever is taken to the hospital. For the first time in two years, they are separated. When he goes to pick up Lolita from the hospital, it turns out that "uncle" has come for her.

lolita nabokov quotes

No Lolita

Humbert has been living without Lolita for three and a half years. Nabokov's description of the hero's experiences for some time makes one believe thatHumbert is experiencing a really great and sincere feeling. He searches for Lolita and drives in the opposite direction, following in the footsteps of his rival. In the fall, Humbert comes to Beardsley and is treated in a sanatorium until spring. A new girlfriend saves him from a straitjacket - the naive, brainless and tender thirty-year-old Rita. Humbert has been teaching at Cantrip University for a year. Soon he finds himself in New York, where in September 1952 he receives a letter from Lolita. She writes that she is married and expecting a child. Her husband was promised a job in Alaska, and she is going to go with him. But to pay off her debts, she needs money.

In continuation of the retelling, it is necessary to recall that in the summary of Nabokov's Lolita, quotes and many important points are missing. Passionately wanting to find Lolita, Humbert determines her address from the stamp and sets off on the road. He finds her in a shack on the outskirts of the city, Lolita's husband is an almost deaf war veteran. Lolita reveals to Humbert the name of her seducer, the playwright genius Claire Quilty who is not indifferent to young children. She was sure that Humbert had already guessed everything. Lolita said that Quilty brought her to the ranch and promised to take her to Hollywood in the fall. But there she was waiting for drugs, drunkenness and group orgies. For refusing to participate in them, she was thrown out into the street. Then she barely made a living and finally met her future husband.

Late regret

In the book "Lolita" Nabokov described the remorse of his hero so touchingly that Humbert feels sorry. He feels guilty before Lolitaand invites her to leave her husband. But she refuses and says that she never loved Humbert. He leaves them four thousand dollars, which he received from the sale of the house, and goes in search of Claire Quilty. Humbert returns to the city where he lived with Lolita's mother and transfers all property to her daughter's name. There he learns the address of the playwright Quilty.

Then Humbert goes to Parkington, Quilty's ancestral castle. Without letting go of the pistol, Humbert is having a half-mad conversation with him, interrupted by a struggle and shots. The playwright tries to escape from his executioner, but Humbert shoots him. Guests come to the house, drink vodka and do not notice Humbert's confession that he killed the owner of the house. Soon he leaves the castle. Vladimir Nabokov in Lolita, describing the last hours of Quilty, chose such words and phrases that the death of the old libertine does not cause any pity in the reader, only disgust.

Humbert writes his confession in a mental hospital where his sanity is tested. Continues it in prison. But, without waiting for the trial, Humbert dies of a heart attack. Lolita, having resolved as a dead girl on Christmas Day 1952, also dies.

lolita nabokov full version

Should I read the novel?

"Lolita" has always evoked and evokes different emotions in readers, but one thing can be said with certainty - this story leaves no one indifferent. Awe, excitement mixed with great grief and seasoned with wit - such is she, Nabokov's Lolita. The story of the devouring, doomed and obsessive passion of the aging Humbert for the littleLolita is the most famous and controversial work of the writer.

Nabokov's scandalous work has gone through hard times. Almost everyone considered it their duty to criticize the novel, nevertheless, this drama with erotic overtones, diluted with passions and intrigues, continues to be read. Everyone finds in it what they wanted to find for themselves. More than sixty years have passed since the first publication, but interest in the novel does not subside.

Nabokov's "Lolita" has been repeatedly filmed, and the film by E. Line, released in 1997, is considered the most successful. This is the softest and lightest version, which is recognized as the best thanks to a young and unknown actress. D. Swain played her role so believably that she made many believe that it was Nabokov who wrote about her, and she went to the screen right from the pages of the book. Despite all the controversy surrounding Lolita, it's safe to say that this is a story that you should definitely read.

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