Lolita: the most tragic novel of the XX century

Lolita: the most tragic novel of the XX century

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In 1958, Vladimir Nabokov's novel Lolita was published in the USA, which brought the writer great fame. The novel regularly gets into the ratings of the best books of the XX century, is named fourth in the list of one hundred novels of all time by Modern Library and is in the list of one hundred best novels of the century by Time magazine. 

Nabokov wrote Lolita in English while traveling during vacations in the United States of America. In the story, a middle-aged intellectual Humbert Humbert meets Dolores Haze, Lolita, at her mother's house, where he stays. Humbert falls in love with a girl, enters into a relationship with her mother, and after the death of the latter goes with Lolita on a long road trip across America. 

27 years before the publication of Lolita, in Berlin, Vladimir Nabokov wrote a poem "Lilith", which also tells about the passion for a young girl and ends with the words "... painfully I shed a seed and suddenly realized that I was in hell." In ancient Jewish mythology, Lilith is the first wife of Adam, who turned into an evil demon. Humbert Humbert called young girls "nymphets" and attributed demonic traits to them.

Lolita: the most tragic novel of the XX century

Lolita: the most tragic novel of the XX century

Vladimir Nabokov at his desk. Initially, fearing a scandal, the author planned to publish the book anonymously. The scandal really accompanied the publication of the novel, however, as they say, there is no such thing as bad publicity — "Lolita" brought Nabokov great fame and income, which allowed him to leave teaching in the USA and move to Switzerland.

Lolita: the most tragic novel of the XX century

The first edition of Lolita. The book was published in Paris by the Olympia Press publishing house, which specialized in publishing erotic and avant-garde literature. Other books published there include "Naked Breakfast" by William Burroughs and "The Story of" by Pauline Reage, for example.

Lolita: the most tragic novel of the XX century

Many believe that the basis of the book about Humbert's love for Lolita was a real story that happened in the 40s in New Jersey: 50-year-old intellectual mechanic Frank Lasalle tricked 11-year-old Sally Horner.

Lolita: the most tragic novel of the XX century

Lasalle caught the girl stealing a notebook and introduced himself as an FBI agent, blackmailing her into running away with him. They spent 21 months traveling in a trailer across the States before the girl escaped from the kidnapper and called the police.

Lolita: the most tragic novel of the XX century

In 1950, Lasalle was sentenced to 30 years in prison. The theme of car travel and the external similarity of Sally with the heroine of Nabokov's novel indicate that this particular case formed the basis of the novel.

Lolita: the most tragic novel of the XX century

Covers of the novel "The Gift" and the story "The Wizard". Many experts on Nabokov's work trace analogies between these works and the novel Lolita. In particular, the motive of the desire to regain a long-lost love — as a child, Humbert Humbert was in love with a girl Annabel Lee, who soon after their meeting dies of typhus. This, in turn, is an allusion to the poem "Annabel Lee" by Edgar Allan Poe. (Photo: Roman Denisov / Russian Look)

Lolita: the most tragic novel of the XX century

Vladimir Nabokov in Montreux, Switzerland, where he lived from 1961 to 1977. The translation of the novel into Russian was made by Nabokov himself, it was published in New York in 1967, and in Russia the book was published only in 1989 (Photo: SNAP / Rex Features / Fotodom.ru )

Lolita: the most tragic novel of the XX century

The novel was filmed twice. The first film adaptation is the Anglo-American film Lolita, shot by Stanley Kubrick in 1962. The script was written by Nabokov himself, but in the end it was used only to a small extent.(Photo: News Ltd / Newspix / Rex Features / Fotodom.ru )

Lolita: the most tragic novel of the XX century

Kubrick at work. (Photo: SNAP / Rex Features / Fotodom.ru )

Lolita: the most tragic novel of the XX century

American actress Sue Lyon as Lolita. At the time of filming, she was 14 years old. Humbert Humbert was played by the Briton James Mason. (Photo: SNAP / Rex Features / Fotodom.ru )

Lolita: the most tragic novel of the XX century

Lion's candidacy for the role of Lolita was approved by Vladimir Nabokov himself.(Photo: SNAP / Rex Features / Fotodom.ru )

Lolita: the most tragic novel of the XX century

The organization "Catholic Legion" demanded that in the scene where sex is implied between Humbert and Lolita, seduction was shown exclusively by hint.

Lolita: the most tragic novel of the XX century

The second film adaptation is "Lolita" by Adrian Lyne, released in 1997. The tape was released in a limited edition and did not make a big box office.(Photo: DAVE LEWIS / Rex Features / Fotodom.ru )

Lolita: the most tragic novel of the XX century

Photos from the premiere of "Lolita": Adrian Lyne with his family and Dominique Swain, who played Lolita. Dominique was 15 years old at the time of filming. (Photo: Moviestore Collection / Rex Features / Fotodom.ru )

Lolita: the most tragic novel of the XX century

Natalie Portman was originally invited to the role of Lolita, but she refused for religious reasons, Portman is a practicing Jew. There is also information that the actress' parents opposed it. Pictured: Natalie Portman in the movie "Leon". (Photo: Theo Kingma / Rex Features / Fotodom.ru )

Lolita: the most tragic novel of the XX century

Humbert Humbert could have been played by Dustin Hoffman, but the role went to Jeremy Irons, and he, admittedly, coped with it perfectly. (Photo: Moviestore Collection / Rex Features / Fotodom.ru )

Lolita: the most tragic novel of the XX century

Many critics of both film adaptations note that none of the Lolitas looks really twelve—year-old - both actresses are older. (Photo: Moviestore Collection / Rex Features / Fotodom.ru )

Lolita: the most tragic novel of the XX century

The role in Lolita is currently Swain's most famous work in cinema. (Photo: Moviestore Collection / Rex Features / Fotodom.ru )

Lolita: the most tragic novel of the XX century

In intimate scenes between Humbert and Lolita, Swain was replaced by an understudy. (Photo: Moviestore Collection / Rex Features / Fotodom.ru )

Lolita: the most tragic novel of the XX century

The film was very ambiguously received in the States, and in Australia it was not allowed to be rented at all, where it was shown only two years later, with a strict restriction. (Photo: DAVE LEWIS/ / Rex Features / Fotodom.ru )

Lolita: the most tragic novel of the XX century

The script of the second film adaptation was closer to the text of the novel than the script of Kubrick's Lolita. Screenwriter Steven Schiff said that the authors of the film did not want to make a remake of Kubrick's tape, but sought to "put a new adaptation of the great novel."

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