Few books have shaken me in the way Lolita did when I read it. Nabokov’s work plays with the reader’s emotions and sympathies, as well as their understanding of sexuality, relationships and love. There is so much going on in the book, that choosing a cover for it should be excruciatingly hard. Yet, based on what I could see in Dieter E. Zimmer’s gallery, entitled “Covering Lolita“, a great number of editions from all over the world have chosen to go with the portrayal of Lolita as a temptress, many of them featuring the iconic heart-shaped glasses which have come to characterise her.
However, in the book, Lolita is a twelve year old who was trapped in a context of abuse which, I believe, she couldn’t quite understand. According to John Bertram’s interview with The New Yorker, Nabokov (a translator himself) tried to enforce this concept for a while, voicing his opinion against the portrayal of girls on the cover. However, he lost some of the control he had over his work after the first movie, by Stanley Kubrick, which was released in 1962.
And I guess that is where the Lolita Book Cover Project comes in. For this project, Bertram instructed designers to submit new Lolita covers, and, most of them aware of Bertram’s criticism of the already published ones, they produced some of the most incredibly symbolic and suggestive covers I’ve seen in my short life.
I guess amazing literature inspire equally incredible art, which is not only complete in itself but also feeds from that which is conveyed in the book.
You can check out the contest’s winners on Bertram’s blog, venus febriculosa. And I believe these are some of my favourites: