Nabokov’s Real Lolita

Perhaps, it was a strange choice to read this long essay over breakfast (cold cereal and tea, for those who are concerned with such matters), but I’ve been in a reading, writing, blogging, everything rut. I have a bunch of deadlines for reviews coming up over the next two weeks, then I must begin writing an essay for which I’ve been commissioned, but good news arrived this morning, that a bit of flash fiction I wrote last year will be published in the autumn. I’m very happy for that, because it is a piece I am particularly fond of.

But anywho, this morning’s breakfast was accompanied by a long form essay (bully for a now oft-deprived discipline). It is an essay I’ve been saving for well over a month, but I thought this gloomy morning was a time to forsake the news and just read one thing: “The Real Lolita” by Sarah Weinman (11/20/2014, Penguin Random House Canada/Hazlitt Magazine).

Has anyone else read this essay? Even if you haven’t read Lolita, I’m sure the story itself is particularly interesting. The subtitle is certainly astute in what it proclaims: The story of 11-year-old Sally Horner’s abduction changed the course of 20th-century literature. She just never got to tell it herself.




  1. Did you ever read the essay about Dorothy Parker’s possible plagiarism of Lolita? It’s here:

    The New Yorker archive has the Dorothy Parker version of “Lolita” online (if you have a subscription–I don’t). It’s in the August 27, 1955 issue; I’m sure you can get a copy from the NYPL archives or something if you’re really curious.

    And I just saw on Wikipedia that Nabakov was accused of stealing the idea from a 1916 German short story by Heinz von Lichberg, also called “Lolita”. Huh.

    PS. Hope things are going well for you, I’ve been kind of hiding under a rock, myself, in terms of keeping up on all my reading…

    1. Yes, I have read it. Ooh, I haven’t heard of the possible lift from a short story. I’ll have to investigate! There is another novel of Nabokov’s that reads almost like a Kafka book. Not necessarily in plot (although it is very Kafka-esque). He claimed to have never heard of Kafka at that point.

  2. No, I haven’t read that one, but now I’ll have to. I was thinking of An Invitation to a Beheading. From Wikipedia: “The novel takes place in a prison and relates the final twenty days of Cincinnatus C., a citizen of a fictitious country, who is imprisoned and sentenced to death for ‘gnostical turpitude.'”

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