Lolita Now

After almost three-quarters of a century, how are we now to think about Lolita? It may well be the most commented on novel written in English in the past hundred years, alongside Joyce’s Ulysses. In the case of Ulysses, the imperative for commentary is chiefly a consequence of the invitation to exegesis generated by that novel’s dense network of allusions and the multiple complexities of its structure. In fact, Alfred Appel, Jr., in the introduction to his splendid Annotated Lolita, has observed certain affinities between Lolita and Ulysses in the centrality of parody for both novels, in their resourceful deployment of popular culture, and, of course in their shared elaborate mobilization of literary allusions. Nabokov, we should recall, was a great admirer of Ulysses, and Lolita has its own formal intricacies, which have been duly explicated by much apt criticism ever since its initial American publication in 1958. Yet the

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