Non j’ai pas tout lu justement et avec les citations en anglais je passe à coté de presque tout. Pour l’ambiguïté de Nabokov j’ai vu aussi des confirmations par rapport à son obsession pour les petites filles.
Ce livre montre que les prédateurs d’enfants sont des #pervers_narcissiques #PN et qu’ils manipulent tout le monde car les autres sont des objets pour lui.
Designing a cover for a controversial novel is always a fraught endeavor, but few novels come with as much visual baggage as “Lolita.” Nabokov’s daring story has confounded book designers from the beginning: the cover of the first edition, published in 1955, was solid green. In the decades since, “Lolita” has become closely associated with certain images, most indelibly the nymphet in red, heart-shaped sunglasses on the poster for Stanley Kubrick’s 1962 movie adaptation, which many book versions have reproduced.
But the sexualized vision of Lolita perpetuated by popular culture has very little to do with the text of Nabokov’s novel, in which Lolita is not a teen-aged seductress but a sexually abused twelve-year-old girl. A new book, “Lolita: The Story of a Cover Girl: Vladimir Nabokov’s Novel in Art and Design,” edited by John Bertram and Yuri Leving, challenges this prevailing misrepresentation with essays by book designers, artists, and Nabokov scholars, and a preface by Mary Gaitskill that considers the problem of capturing Nabokov’s psychologically complex story in a single image. The book’s centerpiece is the Lolita Book Cover Project, for which Bertram, an architect based in Los Angeles, commissioned designers to create new covers for the book. We spoke with Bertram by e-mail.
Roughly how many published covers for “Lolita” exist, and from how many countries?
The Nabokov scholar and translator Dieter E. Zimmer has about a hundred and eighty-five covers from thirty-six countries in his online “Covering Lolita” gallery right now, although there are a few that don’t properly count (at least one is for an LP, and two are for books about the novel). However, I have seen other covers that don’t appear on his site, so I would say the number is closer to, or may exceed, two hundred.
You write that Nabokov had strong opinions about how “Lolita” covers should look, including a “no girls” dictum that he later revoked. Could you explain the evolution of Nabokov’s feelings about the covers?
The Nabokov scholar Stephen Blackwell argues that Nabokov was always intent on controlling his public image and his reputation, and that this extended to translations, interviews, and book covers. Of “Lolita”’s cover design he originally wrote to his publisher: “I want pure colors, melting clouds, accurately drawn details, a sunburst above a receding road with the light reflected in furrows and ruts, after rain. And no girls.” He also said, “Who would be capable of creating a romantic, delicately drawn, non-Freudian and non-juvenile, picture for LOLITA (a dissolving remoteness, a soft American landscape, a nostalgic highway—that sort of thing)? There is one subject which I am emphatically opposed to: any kind of representation of a little girl.”
But Nabokov eventually saw in the “Lolita” controversy that his novel had a life of its own, especially after he sold the film rights (which, along with the success of the book, afforded him the chance to quit teaching, move to Switzerland, and focus solely on his writing) and, later, when the book was absorbed into the promotional whirlwind for Kubrick’s adaptation. Also, after the success of “Lolita,” Nabokov was kept extremely busy with translating his earlier Russian-language novels into English and “Lolita” into Russian, and with new writing endeavors, and he had less time or inclination to monitor public treatments of his book. I suppose you could say that he ended up being rather willing to give “Lolita” over to popular culture.
Many of the covers guilty of misrepresenting Lolita as a teen seductress feature images from Hollywood movie adaptations of the book— Kubrick’s 1962 version, starring Sue Lyon, and Adrian Lyne’s 1997 one. Are those films primarily to blame for the sexualization of Lolita?
As is argued in several of the book’s essays, the promotional image of Sue Lyon in the heart-shaped sunglasses, taken by photographer Bert Stern, is easily the most significant culprit in this regard, much more so than the Kubrick film itself (significantly, neither the sunglasses nor the lollipop ever appears in the film), or the later film by Adrian Lyne. Once this image became associated with “Lolita”—and it’s important to remember that, in the film, Lolita is sixteen years old, not twelve—it really didn’t matter that it was a terribly inaccurate portrait. It became the image of Lolita, and it was ubiquitous. There are other factors that have contributed to the incorrect reading, from the book’s initial publication in Olympia Press’s Traveller’s Series (essentially, a collection of dirty books), to Kubrick’s startlingly unfaithful adaptation. At the heart of all of this seems to be the desire to make the sexual aspect of the novel more palatable.
Very few of the covers designed for the Lolita Cover Project feature a girl on their covers; they tend to take more conceptual or text-centric approaches. What are some of the main themes of “Lolita” that the designers tended to focus on, and why do you think so few chose to feature Lolita herself?
Although no restrictions were placed on the designers commissioned to provide covers for the book, most were at least aware of my criticism of many of the published covers, and they seemed to take it to heart. Most of the designers were also quite sensitive to the idea of placing a sexualized child on the cover. Also, many of the designers love the book, and I’d like to think that because of this their designs were more carefully considered. Many covers featured objects that indirectly represented Lolita or her vulnerability (socks, Mary Janes, a scrunchie), and others focussed on the theme of obsession, or what the design critic Alice Twemlow in her essay calls “Humbert’s worldview.” However, once Lolita herself is eliminated from the cover, it’s natural to focus on words themselves, which Nabokov truly savored.
Mary Gaitskill writes in her introductory essay that no cover could ever succeed in fully expressing the “impossible, infernal combinations” of love and cruelty contained in “Lolita.” Having seen the richness and diversity of the Cover Project results, do you agree with her?
Absolutely. Although there are many covers here that I love, a complete picture is really only achieved through seeing the covers in aggregate and, for me, the joy of this endeavor lies in never being forced to choose a single cover to represent the novel.
Images courtesy Print Books