Cover girl: the difficulty of illustrating Lolita persists, 60 years on


My new article discussing the cover designs of Vladimir Nabokov’s masterful novel Lolita (1955) has just been published at The Conversation.

Here is the opening paragraph:

When it was published in 1955 by Olympia Press, Vladimir Nabokov’s seminal and controversial novel Lolita had a very simple, green cover design. Nabokov himself had wanted his own particular cover:

I want pure colours, melting clouds, accurately drawn details, a sunburst above a receding road with the light reflected in furrows and ruts, after rain. And no girls.

Some 60 years later – and still frequently topping best-book lists – Lolita has inspired hundreds of front cover designs, many of which feature similar visual tropes: endless lollipops, lips, lipstick, scrunchies, underwear, bathers, heart-shaped sunglasses from Stanley Kubrick’s 1962 adaptation, sly references to the female anatomy (strawberries, etc.), and a lot of pink… Read more here


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