Nabokov Shows Joyce How to Do It: Lolita

Complete with bushy eyebrows, James Mason as the perfect Humbert Humbert contemplates the truth where else but in the bath

If you would like to see a long manuscript with annotations explaining all the references which you might otherwise not recognize – in fact, won’t recognize – obtain a copy of The Annotated Lolita from Vintage, edited with preface, introduction and notes by Alfred Appel, Jr. (first printing 1991, a revised and corrected version of the edition published in 1971 of the classic perennial, or rather eternal work of entertainment, interest, story telling and literary artistic genius first published in America in 1978).

It is hard not to conclude that Nabokov outshines both his major literary forbears, Herman Melville’s The Confidence-Man of 1857 and James Joyce’s Ulysses in 1922. Professors of English literature may struggle to bring their interpretation of Nabokov and indeed the others to the fore, but we prefer to remain modestly the appreciative reader who simply finds exquisite joy in Nabokov’s every word, in a text which surely has to be the most delicious and nutritious literary entertainment since Shakespeare, and all of it on the page instead of having to be acted out to get the full dose of excellence.

These two pages alone enough for a thesis – but first, the outrageous secret of the inner child

Here’s a modern version of Lolita, drawn from the web. Would Humbert approve?

A 21st Century Lolita with eyes wide open. Of course, this apparent naivete is not at all the style of the original Lolita, whose response is far more eager to be knowing than non Humberts would expect.

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