"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 important novels of the twentieth century. WITH IMPORTANT PROVENANCE: From the Bureau Littéraire Clairouin, Nabokov's literary agency who was instrumental in its publication.
"Vladimir Nabokov is an artist of the first rank, a writer in the great tradition ... [and] Lolita is probably the best fiction to come out of this country (so to speak) since Faulkner's burst in the thirties. He may be the most important writer now going in this country. He is already, God help him, a classic" (Critic Conrad Brenner, in 1958).
Controversial since its conception, Lolita was rejected by American publishing houses until finally accepted by the avant-garde Olympia Press in Paris and published in a fragile two-volume format.
WITH IMPORTANT PROVENANCE: with stamp of the Bureau Littéraire Clairouin, Nabokov's literary agency, on front free endpaper of each volume.
Nabokov on the Bureau Littéraire Clairouin and the publication of Lolita:
"Lolita was finished at the beginning of 1954, in Ithaca, New York. My first attempts to have it published in the US proved disheartening and irritating. On August 6 of that year, from Taos, New Mexico, I wrote to Madame Ergaz, of the Bureau Littéraire Clairouin, Paris, about my troubles. She had arranged the publication in French of some of my Russian and English books; I now asked her to find somebody in Europe who would publish Lolita in the original English. She replied that she thought she could arrange it. A month later, however, upon my return to Ithaca (where I taught Russian Literature at Cornell) I wrote to her saying I had changed my mind. New hopes had arisen for publication in America. They petered out, and next spring I got in touch with Madame Ergaz again, writing her (Feb. 16) that Sylvia Beach 'might perhaps be interested if she still publishes.' This was not followed up. By April 17 Madame Ergaz had received my transcript. On April 26, 1955, a fatidic date, she said she had found a possible publisher. On May 13 she named that person. It was thus that Maurice Girodias, [founder of The Olympia Press], entered my files…" (Nabokov in Strong Opinions).
With 900 Francs on rear wrappers but possible second issue since there is a little fading around the price that could be evidence of removal of the later price sticker.
Paris: Olympia Press, 1955. Octavo, original green paper wrappers; custom box. Two volumes. A little edgewear and a few spots of soiling, usual spine creases. An excellent copy with an important provenance.
Price: $8,500 .