"I shall never regret Lolita. She was like the composition of a beautiful puzzle—its composition and its solution at the same time. Of course she completely eclipsed my other works, but I cannot grudge her this. There is a queer, tender charm about that mythical nymphet." —Vladimir Nabokov, in 1964
FIRST EDITION OF ONE OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL NOVELS OF THE 20TH CENTURY. A BEAUTIFUL COPY.
"Midway through the twentieth century, Lolita burst on the literary scene., a Russian exile’s extraordinary gift to American letters and the New World. Before Vladimir Nabokov’s adopted country could accept that gift, however, his novel was rejected by five American publishers. Those not put off by the novel’s stylistic complexity were convinced that its scandalous subject... would undoubtedly lead to prosecution on charges of obscenity. Lolita’s inauspicious debut thus took place in Paris, where it appeared in 1955 under the imprint of the Olympia Press, known for the frank sexual content of its publications... The prominent British novelist Graham Greene first drew public attention to Lolita’s artistic merit by naming it, in the London Sunday Times, one of the best books of 1955. Almost immediately, Nabokov’s third novel in English became the ficus of debate, both literary and legal. The controversy concerning Lolita’s status as art or pornography soon caught the attention of American critics and writers, many of whom read the book and championed its cause in this country. Not until 1958, however, did Nabokov’s ‘poor little girl,’ as he liked to put it, officially cross the Atlantic and appear between the covers of the novel’s first American edition...
“Now, nearly a half century after the novel’s publication, Lolita’s rapid ascent from suspect immigrant to respectable classic seems charged with the magic of a dream––the American dream––come true. For Nabokov, who had spent most of his adult life trying to balance the exigencies of a writing career with those of earning a living, Lolita’s success was liberating. Having taught literature first at Wellesley College and then at Cornell University, he was finally free to devote himself full time to writing” (Ellen Pifer, Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita: A Casebook; 2003).
First issue, with 900 Francs on rear wrappers and no evidence of later price sticker.
Paris: Olympia Press, 1955. Octavo, original green paper wrappers; custom box. Two volumes. Mild creasing to spines; some foxing to text block edges and (blank) verso of wrappers. Early pages of text in each volume with slight crease. An exceptionally well-preserved copy with bright crisp original wrappers of a book that is notoriously difficult to find in good condition.
Price: $6,500 .