Tuesday, December 4, 2012

LOLITA (1962)

Color Me Kubrick Month (Post #2)

Lolita directed by Stanley Kubrick
Lolita written by Vladamir Nabakov

I hesitated many months before choosing Vladamir Nabakov's 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 could possibly 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. Some people will think that we planned our reviews to hit roughly simultaneously. I'm thinking that perhaps we could coordinate a bit more in the future--next time, you post first.

    I agree that this is lower-tier Kubrick. I'd dump Barry Lyndon for The Killing, though. Lyndon is beautiful to look at, but ultimately pretty dull, and I could live without it.

    Portnoy's Complaint is the only Roth I've read that didn't make me want to throw the book against the wall.

  2. I think we are pretty much on the same page on Kubrick, but we'll have to agree to disagree on Roth.

    One good movie based on a Roth book is Elegy, with Ben Kingsley as the Roth stand-in chasing after the much younger Penelope Cruz.