Thursday, January 26, 2012

LOLITA (1962)

Classics Revisited Book Group (Posting 9)

Lolita directed by Stanley Kubrick
Lolita written by Vladamir Nabakov

I hesitated many months before choosing Lolita for my reading group due to the controversial subject matter of a middle-aged man’s first person narrative about his infatuation with an under-aged girl. But after skimming the book, Reading Lolita in Tehran, I figured that if these sheltered Iranian girls weren’t traumatized by it, I figured my book group could take it without much fuss.

I was wrong.

One member of my book group kept asking “Who wanted us to read this? Who wanted us to read this filth? I stopped after page 25!” Another member said that in his determination that Nabakov had to be a… "purrr-vert"

Wow! I’m just glad I didn’t choose to read Portnoy’s Complaint!

I did point out to my group that the book is listed on many top ten lists of best English language novels of the twentieth century, but there was no convincing the nay-sayers on the evil of this work.

As far as Stanley Kubrick’s movie version of Lolita, it is in the 1001 Movie book. Now I’m a big Kubrick fan and I think any list of essential movies should have every Kubrick listed since there are so few. (All his major movies are listed in one edition of the book or the other except The Killing, which really should be listed.) However, if I were to leave one of his films out, it would be Lolita. Not that I don’t like it, as it has James Mason and Peter Sellers perfectly cast in their respective roles and is as faithful to this controversial work as a 1962 movie was allowed to be. I’m only saying, I’d put The Killing in the book and remove Lolita if I had to choose between them.

Book or Movie? Obviously I’m picking the book here. If you don’t mind getting in the head of a "purrr-vert," it’s really a substantial piece of literature.


  1. Another movie I haven't seen, but as you are well aware, I LOVED the book and was part of the tag team with my cousin who defended it (quite vehemently!) against the naysayers at our group meeting. Nabokov has a mastery of the English language that is amazing in and of itself, but considering that it's not his native tongue, it's incredible. His skill at word play is truly an art form. And when a writer can make an arrogant character writing in first person come across as pathetic and laughable, other writers should take note and study his mastery of the craft.

    And I still maintain that some people doth protest too much!