I’ve been wanting to read Lolita for years. Who knows why I never got around to it, but I put it on my summer reading list this year. I figured it was time to finally sit down and give it a try.
I used The Annotated Lolita that includes an introduction and notes by Alfred Appel, Jr. It was helpful to read an annotated edition. Since my French is so rusty I could look up the translations of the many French words and phrases that Nabokov includes. There are, however, 138 full pages of notes, and if I had stopped to read every note I probably would still be plugging my way through it. I think annotations should be read sparingly on your first time through a novel. (Also, many of them include plot spoilers.)
I wish that the annotations had been set up the way they were in The Annotated Pride and Prejudice – with the novel on the left side and the relevant notes on the facing page. Flipping back and forth was time consuming. Nevertheless, I’m glad I had the annotated edition, it definitely helped and I’d recommend getting a copy if you’re interested in reading or re-reading Lolita.
While I did enjoy the story, it was Nabokov’s writing that made this book so delightful. He is a master. Here are some of my favorite lines:
“Most of the dandelions had changed from suns to moons.” (page 73)
“And presently I was driving through the drizzle of the dying day, with the windshield wipers in full action but unable to cope with my tears.” (page 280)
“It was love at first sight, at last sight, at ever and ever sight.” (page 270)
Next, I’m moving the movie version of Lolita to the top of my Netflix queue.
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