OOoh, this thread is definitely rubbing up against my "pop culture is subjective" nerve.
I adore Lolita. Nabokov's skill with the English language is superb. For instance, the opening paragraph, with its extreme alliteration, gives me the shivers: Loo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trp of three steps down the palate to tap, a three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta. The fact that he's working in his second (third? fourth?) language makes it all the more impressive.
And what a character! The ultimate in unreliable narrator! The skill Nabokov has in SHOWING, through Humbert Humbert's narration, that everything he is SAYING is a lie. It's like a dance, where one is weaving through his constant falsehoods to find the truth of poor Delores's fate. As an MFA student in fiction writing, I marvel at his ability to undermine his main character at every turn.
I need to pick up Pale Fire. I've heard from Nabokov enthusiasts that, while Lolita is his most famous (probably because of the subject matter), Pale Fire is his best.
Anna Karenina, however, bores me. War and Peace was better. And when it comes to 19th century Russian writers, I like Dostoevsky better than Tolstoy, anyway. Crime and Punishment was awesome.