Lolita

Lolita, Nabokov's 12th novel and 3rd in English, Olympia Press (Paris), 1955, Putnam, 1958; reprinted, Berkley Publishing, 1984; Russian translation by the author, Phaedra, 1966; annotated edition, edited with a preface, introduction and notes by Alfred Appel, Jr., published as The Annotated Lolita, McGraw-Hill, 1970. (Lolita can be found in most public libraries and bookstores and is available online from Amazon.com and from Barnes & Noble. Also published as a Penguin Classic by Penguin UK.)

"You mean," she persisted, now kneeling above me, "you never did it when you were a kid?"
"Never," I answered quite truthfully.
"Okay," said Lolita, "here is where we start."

Lolita, one of the most notorious novels of the 20th century, describes the tormented relationship between cosmopolitan European Humbert Humbert and his 12-year old American stepdaughter Dolores Haze, nicknamed Lolita. The novel enjoyed a scandalous success, providing Nabokov with financial independence, but it remains primarily a breathtaking linguistic achievement.

Lolita was the only novel he composed in English that VN translated into Russian.

"As far as I can recall, the initial shiver of inspiration was somehow prompted by a newspaper story about an ape in the Jardin des Plantes who, after months of coaxing by a scientist, produced the first drawing ever charcoaled by an animal: this sketch showed the bars of the poor creature's cage."
Nabokov, from the Afterword

"Lolita is one of our finest American novels, a triumph of style and vision, an unforgettable work, Nabokov's best (though not most characteristic) work, a wedding of Swiftian satirical vigor with the kind of minute, loving patience that belongs to a man infatuated with the visual mysteries of the world."
Joyce Carol Oates

"A fine book, a distinguished book - all right, then - a great book."
Dorothy Parker

"It is also, not to change the subject, just about the funniest book I remember having read."
John Hollander

Lolita has inspired two films, the first directed by Stanley Kubrick (1962), the second by Adrian Lyne (1997).

Scholarly Criticism of Lolita:

Boyd, Brian. "'Even Homais Nods': Nabokov's Fallibility, or, How to Revise Lolita"
Cornwell, Neil. "Intimations of Lo: Sirens, Joyce and Nabokov's Lolita"
Couturier, Maurice. "The Poerotic Novel: Nabokov's Lolita and Ada"
Couturier, Maurice. "Lolita et la France"
Dolinin, Alexander. "What Happened to Sally Horner?: A Real-Life Source of Nabokov's Lolita"
Linetski, Vadim. "The Function of the Phallus: Lolita and/as Children's Fiction" in Perforations 13 (1993)
Schuman, Sam. "On the Road to Canterbury, Liliput and Elphinstone - The Rough Guide: Satiric Travel Narratives in Chaucer, Swift and Nabokov"
Sweeney, Susan Elizabeth. "Executing Sentences in Lolita and the Law"
Wakashima, Tadashi. "Double Exposure: On the Vertigo of Translating Lolita"

Michael Juliar. A Note about the possible inspiration for The Enchanter and Lolita
Lemay, Eric. "Dolorous Laughter"

See also Dieter E. Zimmer's Lolita, USA, a geographical guide to Lolita.

A Bibliography of Critical Works on Lolita

WORKS

MARY | KING, QUEEN, KNAVE | THE DEFENSE
GLORY | LAUGHTER IN THE DARK | DESPAIR
THE GIFT | INVITATION TO A BEHEADING | THE EYE
THE ENCHANTER | THE REAL LIFE OF SEBASTIAN KNIGHT
BEND SINISTER | LOLITA | PNIN | PALE FIRE
ADA | TRANSPARENT THINGS | LOOK AT THE HARLEQUINS!
THE ORIGINAL OF LAURA


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