'Lolita is comedy, subversive yet divine ... You read Lolita sprawling limply in your chair, ravished, overcome, nodding scandalized assent' Martin Amis, Observer
Poet and pervert, Humbert Humbert becomes obsessed by twelve-year-old Lolita and seeks to possess her, first carnally and then artistically, out of love, 'to fix once for all the perilous magic of nymphets'. Is he in love or insane? A silver-tongued poet or a pervert? A tortured soul or a monster? Or is he all of these? Humbert Humbert's seduction is one of many dimensions in Nabokov's dizzying masterpiece, which is suffused with a savage humour and rich, elaborate verbal textures. Filmed by Stanley Kubrick in 1962 starring James Mason and Peter Sellers, and again in 1997 by Adrian Lyne starring Jeremy Irons and Melanie Griffith, Lolita has lost none of its power to shock and awe.
He did us all an honour by electing to use, and transform, our language.
Nabokov can move you to laughter in the way that masters can - to laughter that is near to tears.
There's no funnier monster in modern literature than poor, doomed Humbert Humbert.
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In this essay from his forthcoming collection, There Are Places in the World Where Rules Are Less Important Than Kindness, titled ‘Lolita and the Blue Icarus’, Carlo Rovelli writes about Nabokov’s foray into lepidoptery – and his surprising recognition as “a scientist of real worth”.