Chasing Lolita: How Popular Culture Corrupted Nabokov's Little Girl All Over Again

Graham Vickers, Author . Chicago Review $24.95 (247p) ISBN 978-1-55652-682-4

For 50 years, the nymphet Lolita (whose real name is Dolores Haze) has existed in the collective imagination. This sleek and knowing book takes an activist approach rather than a voyeuristic one to search out, first, the sources of Nabokov's once-censored novel, and then its impact and all the misunderstandings surrounding his celebrated character. Vickers (coauthor, Neal Cassady: The Fast Life of a Beat Hero ) examines the possible sources of inspiration, from Alice Liddell of Lewis Carroll fame to Fanny Brice's Baby Snooks; from an obscure German writer with the suggestive name von Lichberg to Edgar Allan Poe; from Chaplin's life story to a then unpublished novella by Nabokov himself. Most of the book is a romp through popular culture: the Stanley Kubrick film and Adrian Lyne's remake—the release unfortunately coincided with the murder of JonBenet Ramsey—as well as dismal stage adaptations; Brooke Shields's roles and ads and Japanese gothic Lolita fashion. Vickers succeeds admirably and entertainingly in his goal of separating Nabokov's character from “the many copied and counterfeited Lolitas.” 27 b&w photos. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 06/16/2008
Release date: 08/01/2008
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