Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0005338, Tue, 11 Jul 2000 11:13:20 -0700

Re: Maliszewski article, Lurid Paperback Covers (fwd)
from Ken Tapscott, kentapscott@hotmail.com

As a child of about 10, circa '66, I discovered that the large attic of
my grandmother's house was filled with boxes of books which had been left
there by my mother, her brother, and various older second cousins over the
previous 30 years or so. I remember going through these boxes in the hot,
dark, and filthily dusty attic rooms, poring over the stuff stored there,
some of which was really old and went back to the Civil War. When I later
read _Lolita_ for the first time in the mid-'70's, about 10 years later, I
received with a shock a mental image of the memory of the cover of one of
those old paperback books: a small book, like the old Fawcett Crest
editions, it featured a painting of what was obviously a motel room. A bed
was on the right side, lengthwise, as in Van Gogh's famous painting of his
bedroom, and sitting on the edge of the bed was a little girl in a flouncy,
black and white gingham dress, and she had long black pigtails. In the back
of the room. was a distinguished looking gentleman in a suit, whom I recall
as having his arms clasped behind his back, and I think he was looking out a
window on the back wall of the room. Perhaps he was facing inwards, but
there was a window, and probably the door to the outside as well, and his
arms looked clasped behind his back. There was a strangely pensive air about
the pair of figures, and also something horribly bleak about how alone they
were, together in that room. I don't recall the title on the book's cover,
but I'm certain that it was Lolita, and it was an edition from the '50's, or
earlier than, say, '65. It was pretty creepy, as I recall. The odd thing is
that I am _certain_ that nobody I'm aware of in my family had ever read
Lolita, although my parents were aware of its smutty reputation when I
started reading Nabokov later in college. I've never seen a copy of that
paperback edition since then, and it has for me the status almost of a
"remembered" hallucination. A subsequent, diligent, search of that attic for
the book revealed that all the boxes of paperback books had been given away
years earlier, and no one remembered having ever seen that one, but I'm sure
it was there and it couldn't have been anything but Lolita.


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