Thursday, August 01, 2013

The evolution of Lolita

Lolita never grows up. She is stuck inside Nabokov's novel, precocious, fragmented, obsessive. But the controversies that her story has caused are constantly changing and evolving for generations of readers, while providing fodder for critics' interpretations and analyses. But the task of creating a cover for Lolita can be just as challenging and exciting. Throughout the years, book designers have reimagined and reinvented this interesting character. The different perspectives are very compelling: from Stanley Kubrik's staple heart-shaped glasses, to a girl in a swimsuit hiding her face behind a blank book, here are how book designers saw Lolita.

Starting from the top left corner, going left to right, here are the years and publishing houses:

1966 // US Berkley Medallion Books // New York
1969 // GB Transworld // London
1973 // GB Transworld // London
1989 // US Vintage International // New York
1995 // GB Penguin // London
1997 // US Random House // New York
2005 // US Random House // New York
2006 // GB Penguin // London
2011 // GB Penguin // London

But let us not forget that Lolita has become a cultural phenomenon all over the world, being translated and published in many languages. Here are nine more arresting interpretations of Lolita as viewed by book designers around the globe.

1964 // Altin Kitaplar Yayinevi // Istanbul, Turkey
1966 // Mondadori // Milano, Italy
1970 // Omega // Amsterdam, Netherlands
1988 // Dar Al-Adab // Beirut, Lebanon
1997 // Gyldendal // Copenhagen, Denmark
1997 // Gallimard // Paris, France
2002 // Patakis // Athens, Greece
2003 // Muza // Warsaw, Poland
2004 // AST // Moscow, Russia

An interesting observation is how the cover designers negotiated the novel's message and content so that it would be in keeping with a certain culture and time period. The representations vary from obvious to cryptic, from realistic to figurative, from innocent and pure to seductive and risqué.

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