Lolita by V. Nabokov

Awe and exhiliration--along with heartbreak and mordant wit--abound in Lolita, Nabokov's most famous and controversial novel, which tells the story of the aging Humbert Humbert's obsessive, devouring, and doomed passion for the nymphet Dolores Haze. Lolita is also the story of a hypercivilized European colliding with the cheerful barbarism of postwar America. Most of all, it is a meditation on love--love as outrage and hallucination, madness and transformation.

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  • Shon

    So sorry I missed this one... Looking forward to the online discussion!

    July 17, 2013

  • Nancy L.

    If you are interested in continuing the discussion of Lolita online, there's a book group on Good Reads called Brain Pain that will start their discussion on July 22. I participated in their discussion of Virginia Woolf's The Waves a while back, and was impressed with the group's literary knowledge. Check 'em out!

    http://www.goodreads.com/group/show_book/58827-brain-pain?group_book_id=795183

    2 · July 15, 2013

    • James H.

      With all the online comments about this novel, I am even more bummed that I missed the chat. Thanks for the link, Nancy.

      July 15, 2013

    • Dennis L H.

      Thanks Nancy. I will check them out.

      July 15, 2013

  • Andrew

    I meant to ask this: can you honestly say that there was never any moment where you identified with HH, shared his anguish and misery, even though the moment you were conscious of it you wrenched yourself back in your chair with an audible "yuch!" Since I asked, I have to answer—yes, there were many times I found myself saddened by his hopeless plight. I wasn't rooting for him per se, but rather hoping for a happy ending, which in his and Lo's case would mean a quick apprehension and years and years of therapy, in one instance administered behind bars. I believe Humbert, in spite of his nympholept's self-restrictions, grew to love Lolita, and this one truth made the novel truly tragic.

    July 11, 2013

    • Dennis L H.

      Thanks, Laura. It does make for some good fun! But more importantly, I am learning so much from all of you in the group but especially from Stephany and Andrew.

      July 13, 2013

    • stephany

      I loved this discussion on-line, in person, and in my head. Fabulous and riotous summertime fun.

      July 13, 2013

  • James H.

    So damn sorry that I missed this discussion! Besides the best opening paragraph/chapter of any novel ever, Lolita is a tour de force of artistry. (I still haven't finished the novel - I keep re-reading passage after passage.)

    1 · July 11, 2013

    • stephany

      I know -- it's hard to take in the whole thing... too much!

      July 11, 2013

  • Bill

    Great discussion. And thanks to Laura for setting up the meeting place.

    July 11, 2013

  • Anna

    Thanks for an engaging discussion last night; I'm grateful to have had the benefit of this group's insights to guide my first reading of such a challenging piece. As a newcomer, it was an added pleasure to meet readers who are so thoughtful and prepared! I'm looking forward to meeting again soon.

    July 11, 2013

  • Nancy L.

    I was disappointed there was no knock-down-drag-out as promised, but it was still a great discussion. Thanks everyone for broadening my mind!

    July 11, 2013

  • Kristin

    Lolita is an extraordinary book. Although it explores the darker side of being human, it was so worth the time to read and discuss.

    July 11, 2013

  • Leana

    I am so sad to miss this discussion!! I had a family emergency come up and I'm not going to be able to make - nancy and Melissa take notes and fill me

    July 10, 2013

  • Bob

    Too far for me to drive for a discussion about depravity, sorry.

    July 10, 2013

  • djmk

    I'm wondering if it would be helpful to consider when it was written. I can't read Huckleberry Finn without wincing at the racism, despite Huck's love for Jim, and yet it's a novel I love. The Merchant of Venice is unquestionably anti-semitic, but still a great play. We're all so much more aware now of this possibility, but nobody (well, virtually nobody) was when it was written. Nobody talked about anything disturbing, in fact, and that's one of the reasons Nabokov wrote a book around this subject, to take something essentially reprehensible but make it un-put-down-able. I think he succeeds, but I can't help but sympathize with those for whom the topic is much more than an abstraction.

    July 8, 2013

  • Barbara C.

    I am in agreement with Dennis on this book. It is too dark and disturbing. I had to read some Emerson to restore my spirit. Regretfully, I must pass on it. I will miss your brilliant conversation.

    July 7, 2013

    • stephany

      Also, in an academic discussion, we need to be careful not to draw a parallel between the narration's subject and those choosing to read, discuss, or enjoy the black or even perverse humor involved. Appreciating black humor as a device does not mean the same thing as glorifying the subject. I had a hard time getting into Pulp Fiction, initially, for example, but I do realize its genius- and that doesn't make me like or glorify murderers or sadists. Everyone has their limits, and I'm fine with that -- how could I not be? However -- I absolutely stand by the selection of this book for discussion. When is a subject too touchy to be a subject of art? Self censorship is a right. Let us take care, though, not to teeter on de facto censureship by insinuating the topic is too perverse for a person of moral sensibilities to stomach.

      3 · July 8, 2013

    • Dennis L H.

      Andrew: Thanks for your feedback. I know I can't compete with most literary critics, and compared to many of you in our group, I am definitely a novice regarding good literature. Perhaps, I have worked with so many abuse victims over so many years of my career that I just can't be objective about Lolita. So...I am definitely looking forward to Stephany's recap after your Meetup. Have a great discussion. See you on the 21st. Dennis

      July 8, 2013

  • Andrew

    From Elizabeth Janeway's 1958 review: "This is still one of the funniest and one of the saddest books that will be published this year. As for its pornographic content, I can think of few volumes more likely to quench the flames of lust than this exact and immediate description of its consequences." I encourage members not to give up on it. Nabokov himself challenges us: "In a first-rate piece of fiction, the real clash is not between the characters," he contended, "but between the author and the world."

    July 8, 2013

    • Aimee O.

      Thanks for this Andy. It makes a good jumping off point for reflection and discussion by encouraging us to look past the surface to the real content.

      1 · July 8, 2013

  • Bob

    I'm sorry, but why did the location for this event change? What was wrong with the B & N?

    July 8, 2013

    • stephany

      I sent a few e-mails about Barnes and Noble not being able to accommodate the size of this group. I asked everyone in the group to help me find a new venue for this discussion. Fortunately, one of our members was able to book a private event for us.

      July 8, 2013

  • Kerry C.

    Location is too far for me on a week night, but I really don't want to finish the book anyway, even though it's a classic. See you next time!

    July 7, 2013

  • Laraine

    So sorry to drop out this time...location. I'm sure there will be superb dialog. Glad I reread the book!

    July 6, 2013

  • Joe P.

    I'm going to gracefully bow out of this Meetup. Reading not going well.

    July 6, 2013

    • Joe P.

      Meeting rather, not meetup. Just skipping this book.

      July 6, 2013

  • Tracey

    I've gotta work now. :(

    July 5, 2013

  • Joe P.

    Is the Paradise Bakery near Indian School/Hayden an option for meeting?

    July 4, 2013

    • stephany

      I'll call them tomorrow (Friday)

      July 4, 2013

  • Laraine

    If rooms in the evening are available at Paradise Bakery Cafes, there is one closer to Barnes & Noble and right off the 101 on Mayo Blvd and Scottsdale Rd.

    July 4, 2013

  • James H.

    My school would probably let us use my classroom, but it is hardly "central" (roughly, Chandler Blvd. and Kyrene)

    July 4, 2013

  • Nancy L.

    We have so many people interested in this discussion that there is a wait list?? Nice!

    July 3, 2013

  • James H.

    I'm just back to the blast furnace from the closest earthly place to heaven - Turkey. I will try to read Lolita by the discussion date.

    July 3, 2013

    • James H.

      Izmit while I was teaching, then touring in Izmir, Bursa, Sakarya, and Istanbul. Stunning country, food and best of all the culture and people. Some of the nicest, kindest, most hospitable (among other positive things) people in the world. I miss it/them already.

      July 3, 2013

  • Wendy

    Cannot make Wednesday nights...

    June 30, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I have not read a good novel in 20 years and I think it's time. English is my second language and I noticed my grammar has suffered over years as a result of not reading..

    June 26, 2013

  • Dennis L H.

    Stephany et al: After reading a summary of Lolita on Google, I've decided to skip our meeting on 7/10. Given my professional work and even well into retirement now, I still find myself rather traumatized by the book's primary theme. I'm sure Lolita is well written and perhaps timely in today's world. It's just not for me. Still, I love our Book Club and will see everyone on the 21st. Dennis

    June 25, 2013

    • stephany

      I understand, Dennis. Lolita is a classic, to be sure. However, it is a difficult subject. Thanks for letting us know!

      June 25, 2013

    • Dennis L H.

      Thanks for your kind response, Stephany. Please know that this issue is strictly about my own sensibilities and in no way reflects on your literary selections which I think are superb! Dennis

      June 25, 2013

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