The story is well-known: a middle-aged man, Humbert Humbert, is obsessed with young women and marries a woman to get close to her 12-year-old daughter, Lolita. Upon his wife's death, Humbert becomes Lolita's only guardian, and he stays with her through her teenage years. He attempts to use his status to his advantage, but soon finds out that she has more surprises for him than he for her.

Lolita is a classic. It even got a mention in a Police song ("Just like the old man in that famous book by Nabokov" from "Don't Stand So Close To Me"). It has sex aplenty (though nothing terribly graphic), death, jealousy and lots of scandal. But if that's not reason enough to read the book, consider reading it just for Nabokov's impressive narrative and dialogue. He is an amazingly clear and readable writer for a man who writes sentences that are three pages long.

Nabokov's verbosity, however, only adds to his brilliance; it is never distracting. But even if you find long, convoluted sentences off-putting, you'll still enjoy Lolita. It is an excellent introduction to Nabokov because it is a little easier to follow than some of his more complex -- and in my opinion better -- novels like Ada and my favorite, Invitation to a Beheading . Lolita is certainly not light reading, but anyone who chooses to invest the time to read it will certainly find it worthwhile. ( $12 )

-- Vikki Otero, Features Editor

This item appeared in the Features section of the December 6, 1996 issue.

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