Publishing Lolita

Friends and colleagues discouraged Nabokov from publishing Lolita. The chronicle of seduction between the middle-aged Humbert and the pubescent Lolita threatened to be controversial. In the end, it was his wife, Véra, who convinced Nabokov to proceed. Despite the warnings of friends, Lolita appeared in Paris in September 1955, published by a press better known for its pornographic stock than for its efforts to make the works of Jean Genet, Samuel Beckett, and Henry Miller available to a wider reading public. The book's appearance sparked a flurry of publicity in France, where it was banned as a "dangerous book" until 1958. Lolita would eventually be banned in England, Australia, Burma, Belgium, and Austria and, at the local level, in some American communities. The controversy over the book only fueled sales. On September 17, 1958, the Cincinnati Public Library banned Lolita. The following week it reached number one on the bestseller list.

Vladimir Nabokov. Lolita. Paris: Olympia Press, 1955. [view]

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