Lolita in the Afterlife: On Beauty, Risk, and Reckoning with the Most Indelible and Shocking Novel of the Twentieth Century
Former book editor Minton Quigley (The Early Birds
) brings together 30 thought-provoking essays inspired by Nabokov’s famous 1955 novel to provide “an enduring road map of how we think and talk about Lolita
” in a post-#MeToo world. The essays examine Lolita
from a variety of vantage points: in “Ugly Beautiful,” Roxane Gay discusses the complexities and importance of writing about ugly things. Sarah Weinman, in “The Showgirl Who Discovered Lolita,” details how Rosemary Ridgewell recommended that her lover, Walter Minton, president of G.P. Putnam’s Sons, publish the novel. In “Maison Nymphette,” Kate Elizabeth Russell recalls finding a community of young women in an early internet chat forum who all found inspiration in Lolita the character. The recurring theme is that while Lolita
is critical of an American culture that objectifies and sexualizes young girls, it simultaneously helps to propagate those same ills; as novelist Lauren Groff writes, “Nabokov’s most dazzling creation is both a truly towering work of genius and a profoundly poisonous thing that works in darkness and hurts in stealth.” The essays are uniformly enjoyable, and readers will find this collection full of welcome perspectives on a literary classic. (Mar.)
Correction: A previous version of this review misidentified the author's occupation.