Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

There is not much of a plot to this novel of 1955. Humbert Humbert, European emigree literature professor, develops an obsession with 12 year old Dolores Haze, the daughter of his landlady. They take a road trip together after landlady Charlotte (and briefly Humbert’s wife) is killed by passing traffic.

In gorgeous, lyrical and seductive prose (over which it is astounding to think a Russian native speaker could have gained command) Nabokov ( weaves this tale of Humbert’s nympholepsy against the crassness of American life. Full of irony and double think – the narrative meanders forward towards the inevitable catastrophe. Look out for the ingeniously inventive wordplay and multi-layered effects. Critics have argued endlessly around the many possible interpretations of this work. It is certainly a lot more than an instance of 1950s eroticism, if even that.

Two films have attempted to do justice to the complexities of Lolita – the 1962 offering ( from Stanley Kubrick with James Mason as Humbert and Sue Lyon as Lolita, and the 1997 offering ( from Adrian Lyne with Jeremy Irons as Humbert and Dominique Swain as Lolita. The former is available on DVD at and the latter at

Vladimir Nabokov

336 pages in Penguin Classics paperback edition.

ISBN 978-0141182537

Scroll to Top