revisiting lolita


Lolita is perhaps one of the most gorgeously written books in the English language. Reading it for the first time was both exhilarating and scary. I was astounded by the sheer beauty of its prose and I also felt very uncomfortable that I loved it so much despite its disturbing narrative.

How can Nabokov put together all those words and make them sing, page after page? And how did he manage to elicit my sympathy for the book's narrator, a monster that I should loathe?

I hope to answer these questions again because I'm currently listening to the unabridged audio book narrated by Jeremy Irons. Will Lolita live up to my initial impression when I read it all those years ago? After all, it was Nabokov who said, “One cannot read a book: one can only reread it.”

You can listen to Jeremy Irons read the unforgettable first lines of the Lolita here.

And oh, have a look at this collection of Lolita book covers from 37 countries in 56 years. My favorites are the ones above. I've always loved the simplicity of Penguin book designs.

NPR also has a great feature on Lolita in You Must Read This.

(Images via here, collage by me)


  1. Hi Odessa! I read this book a while ago but thank you for letting me know about the audiobook version by Jeremy Irons. I will definitely check that out ;-)

    1. Niina, I hope you can check it out. Jeremy Irons makes H.H. more seductive but so horrible at the same time. I'm not done listening to it yet but it's definitely a different experience altogether.

  2. I remember reading Lolita at a very young age and beeing completety amazed by Nabokov's style. I also felt uncomfortable and attracted by it at the same time.

    Since audiobooks are not for me (I get easily distracted) I have to read the book again to see if I still feel the same.

    1. Camila, have you tried listening to a multicast audio book? It's great but you have to pick one that's fast-paced otherwise yes it does get boring.