One of his five best books on early love and the perilous flush of infatuation, as told to the Wall Street Journal:
LolitaRead about another novel on Banville's list.
by Vladimir Nabokov (1955)
So vivid and impassioned is Humbert Humbert's artistic incarnation of his adored nymphet that often readers forget the fact that she is the second love of his life. "Did she have a precursor?" he asks at the outset, and answers that indeed she did: "In point of fact, there might have been no Lolita at all had I not loved, one summer, a certain initial girl-child." Although the account of his season of amour fou with Annabel Leigh, in "a princedom by the sea" at his father's hotel on the Riviera, occupies no more than a couple of pages of the narrative, that tormented idyll casts its azure shadow over all the book. On Humbert's very first sighting of Dolores Haze a "blue sea-wave" swells under his heart, and "there was my Riviera love peering at me over dark glasses." Poor Humbert, lost in the lost past and, by the time we read his words, dead.
Lolita appears on Kathryn Harrison's list of favorite books with parentless protagonists, Emily Temple's list of ten of the greatest kisses in literature, John Mullan's list of ten of the best lakes in literature, Dan Vyleta's top ten list of books in second languages, Rowan Somerville's top ten list of books of good sex in fiction, Henry Sutton's top ten list of unreliable narrators, Adam Leith Gollner's top ten list of fruit scenes in literature, Laura Hird's literary top ten list, Monica Ali's ten favorite books list, Laura Lippman's 5 most important books list, Mohsin Hamid's 10 favorite books list, and Dani Shapiro's 10 favorite books list.