- Lolita


Awe and exhilirationalong with heartbreak and mordant witabound in Lolita, Nabokovs most famous and controversial novel, which tells the story of the aging Humbert Humberts obsessive, devouring, and doomed passion for the nymphet Dolores Haze. Lolita is also the story of a hypercivilized European colliding with the cheerful barbarism of postwar America. Most of all, it is a meditation on lovelove as outrage and hallucination, madness and transformation.
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Knopf Publishing Group
New York
Vladimir Nabokov
Lolita, or the Confession of a White Widowed Male, such were the two titles under which the writer of the present note received the strange pages it preambulates. Humbert Humbert, their author, had died in legal captivity, of coronary thrombosis, on November 16, 1952, a few days before his trial was scheduled to start. His lawyer, my good friend and relation, Clarence Choate Clark, Esq., now of he District of Columbia bar, in asking me to edit the manuscript, based his request on a clause in his clients will which empowered my eminent cousin to use the discretion in all matters pertaining to the preparation of Lolita for print.

Mr. Clarks decision may have been influenced by the fact that the editor of his choice had just been awarded the Poling Prize for a modest work (Do the Senses make Sense?) wherein certain morbid states and perversions had been discussed.
My task proved simpler than either of us had anticipated. Save for the correction of obvious solecisms and a careful suppression of a few tenacious details that despite H.H.s own efforts still subsisted in his text as signposts and tombstones (indicative of places or persons that taste would conceal and compassion spare), this remarkable memoir is presented intact.

Its authors bizarre cognomen is his own invention; and, of course, this maskthrough which two hypnotic eyes seem to glowhad to remain unlifted in accordance with its wearers wish. While Haze only rhymes with the heroines real surname, her first name is too closely interwound with the inmost fiber of the book to allow one to alter it; nor (as the reader will perceive for himself) is there any practical necessity to do so. References to H.H.s crime may be looked up by the inquisitive in the daily papers for September-October 1952; its cause and purpose would have continued to come under my reading lamp.
For the benefit of old-fashioned readers who wish to follow the destinies of the real people beyond the true story, a few details may be given as received from Mr. Windmuller, or Ramsdale, who desires his identity suppressed so that the long shadow of this sorry and sordid business should not reach the community to which he is proud to belong. His daughter, Louise, is by now a college sophomore, Mona Dahl is a student in Paris. Rita has recently married the proprietor of a hotel in Florida. Mrs. Richard F. Schiller died in childbed, giving birth to a stillborn girl, on Christmas Day 1952, in Gray Star, a settlemen in the remotest Northwest. Vivian Darkbloom has written a biography, My Cue, to be publshed shortly, and critics who have perused the manuscript call it her best bo