Lolita in the Afterlife: On Beauty, Risk, and Reckoning with the Most Indelible and Shocking Novel of the Twentieth Century
Vladimir Nabokov’s 1958 novel Lolita has inspired some spirited reactions from literary critics over the last sixty years. Equally hated and beloved, the book is one of the most controversial ever published. Jenny Minton Quigley, editor of Lolita in the Afterlife and the daughter of the man who first published Lolita in America, has collected a masterful set of essays and responses that illustrate the fraught conversation about the classic novel.
Humbert Humbert, the novel’s protagonist, is—depending upon whom you ask—a disgusting pedophile who deserves whatever ill fate befalls him or a put-upon prototype for incel culture who preys upon young Lolita because he feels he deserves her love. The essays in the book explore Humbert but also our reactions to and identification with Lolita, the twelve-year-old child—referred to as a nymphette in the novel. The majority of the essays approach the book through Lolita herself, which this makes for fascinating reading if you have read Nobokov’s book in that the title character is not given much of her own voice at all.
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