Critical Insights: Lolita Review

"This volume in the Critical Insights series presents varied analyses of Vladimir Nabokov’s 1955 novel Lolita. In spite of its controversial subject matter and tentative publication, the novel was quickly considered a classic and has attracted a global array of criticism. This volume presents essays expanding on previous threads of analyses while exploring more contemporary ideas.

Two foundational essays offer a general overview of the novel and its main characters (Humbert Humbert and Dolores “Lolita” Haze), as well as a concise biography of Nabokov. The Critical Contexts section then shares four essays providing historical, psychological, and comparative analyses of the novel. Thomas Seifrid, for example, focuses on the influence of Ranier Maria Rilke as manifested throughout Humbert Humbert’s story, while Sara Dickinson draws connections to the literary past in her piece “Nineteenth-Century Russian Literature and the Shaping of Lolita.”

The nine essays in the Critical Readings section delve further into subtext, style, theme, and more. Priscilla Meyer writes about the novel’s use of the doppelganger (double) in her essay “Lolita and the Genre of Literary Doubles: Does Quilty Exist?. Meanwhile, Michael Federspiel points to the distracting effects of Nabokov’s literary style, and posits that the use of anagrams, alliteration, and other word play in the work seem to lessen the impact of Humbert’s shocking behavior.

Essays in both sections include a clear list of works cited and may also include notes. In addition, a fine resources section includes a chronology of Nabokov’s life, a listing of his additional works, and a bibliography. An index rounds out the work."