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Sixty Years of Lolita Book Covers

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Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.

 

Lolita

Corgi Books, London 1973.

 


Vladimir Nabokov on USA: The Novel, flicks through some foreign editions of Lolita.

Lolita

Lolita Published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson Ltd., 7 Cork Street, London First UK Edition 1959

 

She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita. Did she have a precursor? She did, indeed she did. In point of fact, there might have been no Lolita at all had I not loved, one summer, an initial girl-child. In a princedom by the sea.

 

Lolita

Spoken Arts LP (New York), 1964.

 

The spiritual and the physical had been blended in us with a perfection that must remain incomprehensible to the matter-of-fact, crude, standard-brained youngsters of today. Long after her death I felt her thoughts floating through mine. Long before we met we had had the same dreams. We compared notes. We found strange affinities. The same June of the same year (1919) a stray canary had fluttered into her house and mine, in two widely separated countries. Oh, Lolita, had you loved me thus!

 

Lolita

Spoken Arts LP (New York), 1964. (back)

 

And the rest is rust and stardust.

 

Lolita

Random House designed by John Gall.

 

He broke my heart. You merely broke my life.

 

Lolita

Lolita, edizione integrale Italy, 1966

 

Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece

 

Lolita

Penguin, modern classic, 2010.

 

All at once we were madly, clumsily, shamelessly, agonizingly in love with each other; hopelessly, I should add, because that frenzy of mutual possession might have been assuaged only by our actually imbibing and assimilating every particle of each other’s soul and flesh; but there we were, unable even to mate as slum children would have so easily found an opportunity to do so.

 

Lolita

Penguin (Essentials) 2011.

 

The days of my youth, as I look back on them, seem to fly away from me in a flurry of pale repetitive scraps like those morning snow storms of used tissue paper that a train passenger sees whirling in the wake of the observation car.

 

Lolita

Le Livre de Poche, Paris, 1963

 

I looked and looked at her, and I knew, as clearly as I know that I will die, that I loved her more than anything I had ever seen or imagined on earth. She was only the dead-leaf echo of the nymphet from long ago – but I loved her, this Lolita, pale and polluted and big with another man’s child. She could fade and wither – I didn’t care. I would still go mad with tenderness at the mere sight of her face.

 

Lolita

Cover design by Marc J. Cohen Photography by Barnaby Hall March 1989 Edition

 

We had been everywhere. We had really seen nothing. And I catch myself thinking today that our long journey had only defiled with a sinuous trail of slime the lovely, trustful, dreamy, enormous country that by then, in retrospect, was no more to us than a collection of dog-eared maps, ruined tour books, old tires, and her sobs in the night — every night, every night — the moment I feigned sleep.

 

Lolita

Penguin Australia 2011 and 2008.

 

We live not only in a world of thoughts, but also in a world of things. Words without experience are meaningless.

 

Lolita

V. Nabokov, Lolita, 1991 Book cover by Waldemar Świerzy

 

There are gentle souls who would pronounce Lolita meaningless because it does not teach them anything. I am neither a reader nor a writer of didactic fiction…For me a work of fiction exists only insofar as it affords me what I shall bluntly call aesthetic bliss, that is a sense of being somehow, somewhere, connected with other states of being where art (curiosity, tenderness, kindness, ecstasy) is the norm.

 

Lolita

Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita 4th printing, Olympia Press, September 1959 (1955)

 

‘You know what’s so dreadful about dying is that you’re completely on your own’; and it struck me, as my automaton knees went up and down, that I simply did not know a thing about my darling’s mind and that quite possibly, behind the awful juvenile cliches, there was in her a garden and a twilight, and a palace gate – dim and adorable regions which happened to be lucidly and absolutely forbidden to me, in my polluted rags and miserable convulsions…

 

Lolita

Lolita, Turkey 1959.

 

She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita. Did she have a precursor? She did, indeed she did. In point of fact, there might have been no Lolita at all had I not loved, one summer, an initial girl-child. In a princedom by the sea.

 

Lolita

Vladimir Nabokov – The Annotated Lolita Penguin Classics Published 2000. Ink and coloured pencil drawing by Vladimir Nabokov of an imaginary butterfly, dated 5 January 1971, Montreux, dedicated to Véra Nabokov.

 

When I try to analyze my own cravings, motives, actions and so forth, I surrender to a sort of retrospective imagination which feeds the analytic faculty with boundless alternatives and which causes each visualized route to fork and re-fork without end in the maddeningly complex prospect of my past.

 

Lolita

Random House (Vintage) 1997

 

And the rest is rust and stardust.

 

Lolita

Corgi paperback 1962

 

All at once we were madly, clumsily, shamelessly, agonizingly in love with each other; hopelessly, I should add, because that frenzy of mutual possession might have been assuaged only by our actually imbibing and assimilating every particle of each other’s soul and flesh.

 

Lolita

Stockholm, 1957.

Lolita

Penguin