50 Books To Read Before You Die

Lolita

Author: Vladimir Nabokov
Released: 1955
Genre: Tragicomedy

In theory, Humbert Humbert, the primary character in Vladimir Nabokov's controversial and critically lauded novel Lolita, is a reprehensible human being. A fully grown man, his lust and obsession over a 12-year-old girl, Dolores Haze, is textbook "jail bait" fodder, but Nabokov doesn't allow for such easy, on-the-surface convictions.

Fleshing the double-named Humbert out with genuine empathy and multi-layered complexities, the Russian writer does a superb job of conjuring sympathy for a bad, bad man out of his readers.

Fun Fact: In his 1998 short story collection Pure Drivel, funnyman Steve Martin included "Lolita at Fifty," a tongue-in-cheek look at what might have happened to Dolores Haze in her later years. As his story goes, she can't hold a marriage down to save her life.

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