Introduced by Michael Dirda
Illustrated by Federico Infante
A new collector's edition of Nabokov’s acclaimed and controversial novel.
‘Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.’
Courtesy of BBD&P Awards
American fiction has spun few characters as troubling as Humbert Humbert, the narrator of Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov’s part tragicomedy, part literary parody of a middle-aged academic’s sexual obsession with a 12-year-old girl. Yet, despite its unsettling themes, Lolita has since been rightly hailed as one of the richest and most ingenious linguistic achievements of the 20th century, at once a love letter to an adopted American homeland, and the zenith of the love affair between the English language and one of its great masters.
This Fine Edition from The Folio Society includes illustrations by Chilean-born artist Federico Infante who has created nine beautiful yet unsettling paintings. Each of their subjects appear as pale, crumbling murals, the paint of the landscape peeling away around them. The binding features a leather label inset blocked with the phonetic sounding of the book’s title, so relished by Humbert in the novel’s infamous opening paragraph.
‘Both irresistible and unforgivable’
‘This high-souled genius … communicates in every sentence his own playful and godlike bliss’
Through his predatory, spider-like narrator, Nabokov takes joy in perpetually wrong-footing the reader, skipping from volcanic passion to cold derision in single steps. As critic Michael Dirda writes in his brilliant new introduction, while Nabokov’s poet pervert and young quarry flee across the United States, the author seems engrossed in ‘an intricate chess game with an unknown opponent’. Traps are everywhere, the prose filled with stylistic wordplay, dead ends, Joycean cryptograms and misdirections, all of which are there to be savoured and pored over. The reader’s only guide is Humbert, the most unreliable of unreliable narrators, expertly pleading his case as he circumvents post-war America with his ‘nymphet’ Lolita. As the fictitious John Ray Jr., Ph.D., writes of Humbert in his foreword, ‘how magically his singing violin can conjure up a tendresse, a compassion for Lolita that makes us entranced with the book while abhorring its author!’
Vladimir Nabokov was born in St Petersburg, Russia, in 1899. After the Russian Revolution of 1917 he moved to the Crimea with his family and then to England. In 1922 he graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge, before moving to Berlin where he wrote short fiction and poetry under the pseudonym V. Sirin. In 1925 he married Véra Slonim and in 1934 their son Dimitri was born. The family moved to New York in 1940 where he worked as an entomologist before becoming professor of Russian and European literature at Cornell University. During his time in New York he continued to write and publish works, including The Real Life of Sebastian Knight (1941), Nikolai Gogol (1944), Bend Sinister (1947), Lolita (1955) and Pale Fire (1962). He died in 1977 in Montreux, Switzerland.
Michael Dirda is a Pulitzer Prize-winning literary journalist and the author of five collections of essays: Readings (2000), Bound to Please (2005), Book by Book (2006), Classics for Pleasure (2007) and Browsings (2015). He has also written the memoir An Open Book (2003) and On Conan Doyle (2012), which received an Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America. A long-time admirer of Nabokov, he contributed the introduction to a 2008 reissue of The Real Life of Sebastian Knight. His current project is a reconsideration of popular fiction during the late 19th and early 20th century.
Federico Infante is a Chilean artist. He was born in 1982 in Santiago, Chile, and currently lives in New York. He graduated from the Finis Terrae University, Santiago, in 2002 and the Illustration School of Visual Arts, New York, in 2013. He has had solo exhibitions of his work in both New York and Santiago.
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Review by anon on 20th Nov 2016
"I love this edition and it definitely adds something to my bookshelf. The illustrations are beautiful although I do wish there had been a few more. The cover and slipcase are gorgeous. The price is qu..." [read more]
Review by anon on 7th May 2016
"This is a nice edition of one of my favourite books. I only wish there were more illustrations: they mostly depict the first half of the book, only 2 are in the second half. How could the illustrat..." [read more]
Review by email@example.com on 11th Oct 2015
"Humbert Humbert is the king of unreliable narrators and Lolita is the single most clever, sly, crafty and funny game of chess with poor reader's emotions I've ever read. This Folio edition is a must h..." [read more]