Seduced by Lolita

Seduced by Lolita

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta. She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line.

Having watched the Adrian Lyne 1997 version of Lolita last weekend, I’ve now got my hands on the Stanley Kubrick 1962 version (B&W) which I’m looking forward to watching. I’ve also ordered the novel (annotated version) which I’m very keen to read. I have read none of Nabokov’s writing before but I now really want to, based on snippets I’ve read, and also reviews. Is quite something to be fired up by a comparatively ‘old’ book and author.

You can listen to Jeremy Irons (who is Humbert in the 1997 version) reading the opening page of Lolita, here.

All of my blog entires on Lolita:



On Sunday I watched the controversial 1997 movie version of Lolita, starring Jeremy Irons, Melanie Griffith and Frank Langella. The film is based on Vladimir Nabokov’s infamous book of the same name. It’s a long film, about 2 1/4 hours.


Whilst I was broadly familiar with the central theme (middle-aged man falls in love with pre-teen girl) I hadn’t read the book nor seen either of the two films (the other Lolita film is Stanley Kubrick’s, from 1962).

The book was written in English in 1953 by Nabokov, in America, but he couldn’t find a US publisher. Instead it was published in Paris in 1955. The initial print run of 5,000 soon sold out but there were no substantial reviews. Graham Greene described it as “one of the best novels of 1955” but the editor of the Sunday Express (London) called it “the filthiest book I have ever read”. The British Home Office banned entry of the book into Britain and the French government then banned it for two years. The novel was published in Britain at the end of the 50s, but even this brought down the publishing house that published it (Weidenfeld & Nicolas).

It was published in the US in 1958 and went on to become a best-seller. Today it is considered one of the finest novels in the English language and is almost always rated in the top 100 books of the 20th century.

Enough about the background to the book, which I haven’t read (yet!). The film was exquisitely executed – both the acting and the cinematography. Irons powerfully portrays Humbert Humbert – the middle aged man consumed by his obsessive, illicit, illegal love for Lolita. He narrates the entire film in the first person which works very well.

Humbert – a literary scholar – first meets Lolita when he rents a room in New England. He doesn’t like the property and prepares to make excuses to leave. But then he sees, and becomes transfixed by, a 12 year old girl lying on the grass, under a sprinkler – her scantily clad clothes stuck to her. She is the daughter of the landlady and is precocious and full of life. She is Dolores (aka Lolita, Lola, Lo and L – played by actress Dominique Swain in her début film role).

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