Lolita (1955) is discussed in this article as a formative text of the modern Russian discourses of eroticism and carnality built upon the literary achievements of the Silver Age. The discussion of sexuality in Lolita and its Silver Age pedigree is built around analyzing the “sexual portraits” of all the main characters. Their relationships as several “couples” are also explored. Influential initial critical takes on Lolita (by such as Nabokov’s coevals as Lionel Trilling and Stanislaw Lem) are made central to the discussion. East Slavic roots of the novel are traced to such texts as Ilf and Petrov’s The Twelve Chairs and “Confession sexuelle d’un Russe du Sud, ne vers 1870…” (1912) written by an anonymous author in French and published by renowned sexologist Havelock Ellis as an appendix to his collected writings. Lalo’s main argument is that at the time of writing Lolita, Nabokov (as some similarly experimental authors before him, such as Joyce and Wilde) was greatly influenced and informed by psychiatric, sexological and criminological discourses of his time (for example, by Alfred Kinsey and Havelock Ellis).
'Rules of Attraction' in Nabokov’s Lolita: Sexual Portraits of the Main Characters and their Slavic Pedigree
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Nabokov Online Journal