Book Review: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Book Review_ Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov feature image

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov- is renowned for its contentious subject matter: Dolores Haze, a 12-year-old girl, is the topic of the protagonist and unreliable narrator’s obsession, a middle-aged literature professor who goes by the moniker Humbert Humbert. He kidnaps her and abuses her sexually after becoming her stepfather.

With a tortured antagonist who, despite his misdeeds, we finally feel sympathy for, this book is both a beautiful and tragic love story. Just like the characters in the book, I experienced being drawn in by Humbert Humbert’s deceitful charm.

With Lolita, Nabokov could offer villain characteristics that are typically only given to the traditional moral protagonist. The general reader can love the character Humbert Humbert’s ability to weave beautiful words, invoke eminent allusions, and voice popular judgment on undesired aspects of society.

You guys might have already formed one or the other opinion about the book but don’t be too hasty. Keep on reading to explore more!

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov| Book Review

About the Author

Vladimir Nabokov Author of Lolita

Vladimir Nabokov

Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov was a Russian-American author, poet, translator, and entomologist who wrote under the pen name Vladimir Sirin. Nabokov, born in 1899 in Imperial Russia, wrote his first nine novels there (1926–1938) while residing in Berlin, where he met his wife.

After relocating to the US and starting to write in English, he attained fame and recognition on a global scale. Before returning to Europe in 1961 and settling in Montreux, Switzerland, Nabokov, who became an American citizen in 1945, spent most of his time on the East Coast.

With four younger siblings, Vladimir was the family’s eldest and favorite kid. Vladimir Nabokov’s wife, editor, and translator Véra Yevseyevna Nabokova inspired several of his works.

Book Overview | Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Lolita cover image

Full Title: Lolita

Author: Vladimir Nabokov

Genre: Erotic Fiction

Publishing Date: September 1955

Page Count: 336

Themes: The unsavory topics of rape, murder, prostitution, and incest are prominent in Lolita.

Main Characters: Humbert Humbert, Dolores (Lolita) Haze, Clare Quilty, Charlotte Haze, Annabel Leigh, Valeria, Jean Farlow, John Farlow, Dick Schiller, Rita, Mona, Gaston Grodin, Mrs. Pratt, Ivor Quilty, Monique, John Ray, Shirley Holmes, Charlie, Barbara, Vivian Darkbloom, John (Jack) Windmuller, Frederick Beale, Jr.

Setting: 1947 to 1952 in North America. Although most of the story’s significant events took place in America from 1947 to 1952, there are a few other locations worth mentioning.


Scholar, aesthete, and romantic Humbert Humbert have developed a deep, abiding love for Dolores Haze, his landlady’s silky-skinned, twelve-year-old daughter. Humbert suffers immensely in the name of love, reluctantly agreeing to wed Mrs. Haze to be near Lolita.

Yet, when Lolita starts seeking attention elsewhere, he drags her off on a desperate cross-country misadventure. Lolita is a flawless, enduring masterwork of obsession, delusion, and passion that is outrageous, colorful, heartbreaking, and full of clever wordplay.

Book Summary | Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

The surprises Lolita offers are not just moral ones. Humbert Humbert kidnaps his fourteen-year-old stepdaughter Dolores Haze, sextually assault her, isolates his victim from her loved ones, and steals her childhood, all while successfully planning one murder and carrying out another.

These events are always morally righteous. How much of Humbert’s account of these events—and how much of Humbert himself—we can believe is in doubt. For readers of Lolita learn that nothing in this novel is entirely what it seems to be, just as Nabokov’s pretentiously perverse narrator weaves a straitjacket of deception around Charlotte and Dolores — only to find himself fooled in turn.

The line between recollection and imagination, reality and fabulation, is repeatedly crossed until those categories look like the frailest semantic conceits. Destiny (or, as Humbert would have it, “McFate”) intrudes too obtrusively.

Finally, Lolita’s plot is revealed—to be a “plot” of a different kind, a game played by an author whose influence over the narrative is so strong that it seems to extend beyond the page, giving us the unsettling impression that we are Nabokov’s characters as well as his readers.

My Takeaway From the Book

Lolita novel cover image

Even though it is an amazing and bold novel with intriguing wordplay, there is nothing much you can take away from it. No matter how much the author or the narrator tries to defend pedophilia or justify it, I, as an individual reader, could not wrap my head around it.

I admit that it was quite bold of the author to write an entire book about such a dark aspect of our society, but I can’t get to sympathize with or “understand” Humbert. lationIt also seems like the author didn’t want us to sympathize with him but despise him even more as he is trying to justify something so clearly and wrong and, in some aspect, evil.

What Did I Think of the Book? Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

The plot of Lolita is rather simple. Having physical relations with a kid when an adult is present is wrong and illegal. Unquestionably, that is true. But this novel deals with this subject which is unacceptable to society and severely looked down upon, and tries to defend the “guilty” or so tagged by society.

It’s a book with pedophilia as its main theme, one of humanity’s darkest tendencies. And even though it is repulsive, it is utilized to tell the story of an incredibly lost and lonely man. Humbert is a man who deserves sympathy, sympathy for the fact that he is someone who exists.


This book holds a rating of 4 out of 5 stars.

Conclusion | Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Disturbing for some, eye-opening for some, and entertaining for some- this book has a lot of layers to it. This book got me thinking about many things in society, and the fact that people like Humbert exist gives creeps down my spine. But that’s just me and my opinion. What do you think about the book? It’s the theme and the “protagonist,” Humbert.

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