by Vladimir Nabokov
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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.
Reads fine until chapter 20 of part 1, where it skips to some other random section. Total waste of $16.
Vladimir Nabokov did things with the English language that is beyond most others' wildest dreams. He used it with precision, playfulness & panache. Nabokov's sheer love of language is an exhilarating thing to experience.
Regarding the narration, I can think of just one word (alas-- my resources aren't as wide as Nabokov's): DIVINE. You will fall in love. Jeremy Irons is really nothing short of divine. One does not need this review to know that he has a maddeningly gorgeous voice-- just listen to the preview! Less obviously however, he meets the enormous emotional & intellectual challenges narrating this book poses. Humbert Humbert, the narrator of 'Lolita', is infamously 'unreliable' & Irons gets this across without being theatrical.. He is coaxing, panicked, depraved, seductive, smug & pitiful, as the situation calls for. He is what is what I imagine must be one of the hardest things to convey through acting: sociopathic.
No less impressive is Mr Irons' grasp of the technical aspects of this book, with its fanciful terms (either obscure or coined) & the significant amount of phrases in other languages, most often French. That can be learnt through a dialogue coach, but his innate understanding of the story is something that cannot. One can't have simply a pleasant speaking voice to read Nabokov; one must have a thorough respect for the arts of storytelling & linguistics. Mr Irons is much more than a pretty voice & does this important work of fiction ample justice. That’s saying a heck of a lot.
Enjoy it-- we are so lucky to have this.
I hate his reading. To much acting over the top. I have the Alchemist by him just as bad. Jeremy please don't do anymore. The guy in the intro I think I recognize his voice from reading In Cold Blood. That is the best narration along with the guy who did Moby Dick 1983.