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Quicklets: Learn More. Read Less.
Nabokov conceived the idea for Lolita after reading a news story in late 1939 or early 1940. The story was about a primate who produced the first drawing ever sketched by an animal, the subject of which was the bars of his cage.
Inspired by the sad animal's perspective of imprisonment, Nabokov penned a short story with a roughly similar plot to Lolita. There were several differences between this first version and the final: firstly, the girl's mother was sick; secondly, the girl was French (Nabokov had not yet moved to the United States); thirdly, it was written in Russian; finally, the narrator chucks himself under a moving truck after only one attempt to take advantage of the child.
Lolita is rated as a twentieth century classic. Time magazine included it on its "100 Best Novels" list. Modern Library rated it fourth on its 1998 list of the 100 Best Novels.
From the Introduction by Kate Russell:
The first time I read Lolita, I spent a very long time on each page, overwhelmed by the amount of layers in every word and sentence. One sentence was like reading a page of any other author's work (except James Joyce, of course). I had no idea a book could be like this. It was as if the books I had read before were cheap chocolate bars and I'd just taken a bite of a Belgian truffle. If I read it too quickly, my brain might explode. It opened my eyes and my mind to the language I already spoke.
You may have heard of Lolita before. You may have heard that it is depraved, disgusting, and perverse. It is all of those things. But it is written so beautifully that by the end, you sympathize with a child molester and lust after his captiveâ€”and that is the magic of the English language.
To be continued!