Vladimir Nabokov on Lolita: Just Another Great Love Story?

We take you back to the mid 1950s, to an inter­view with Vladimir Nabokov and lit­er­ary crit­ic Lionel Trilling con­duct­ed soon after the pub­li­ca­tion of Loli­ta (1955). Loli­ta’s basic plot is well known — mid­dle-aged Hum­bert Hum­bert devel­ops a pas­sion­ate obses­sion for twelve-year old Dolores Haze and takes her on the road. For some crit­ics, this was enough to reject the book out of hand. One British review­er called it “the filth­i­est book I have ever read” (which per­haps did­n’t say much about the scope of his read­ing). Oth­er lit­er­ary observers, Trilling includ­ed, rec­og­nized the book’s lit­er­ary mer­its straight­away. And years lat­er, crit­ics still agree. Recent­ly, The Mod­ern Library called it the fourth most impor­tant nov­el pub­lished in Eng­lish dur­ing the 20th cen­tu­ry.

The video above fea­tures Nabokov and Trilling talk­ing inter­est­ing­ly about how Loli­ta finds its place in a grand lit­er­ary tra­di­tion that’s more con­cerned with love, often scan­dalous love, than with sex per se. And, it’s in this sense that Loli­ta sits in the same tra­di­tion as Tol­stoy’s Anna Karen­i­na.

The video is actu­al­ly the sec­ond part of a longer inter­view. You can start with Part I here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Vladimir Nabokov Mar­vels Over Dif­fer­ent “Loli­ta” Book Cov­ers

Nabokov Tweaks Kafka’s “The Meta­mor­pho­sis”

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Comments (2)
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  • Dagwood says:

    Can one imag­ine this inter­view on tv nowa­days? I can’t, even if we have 8000 chan­nels to choose from. None would even think of doing some­thing this “bor­ing”, “elit­ist”, or “intellectual”…and I’d guess not many would watch it, either (oth­er than folks drawn to the scan­dal that was the tri­al of the sto­ry of poor Lo and filthy HH).

  • Honour McMillan says:

    It should be not­ed that Pierre Berton is the third per­son :)

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