My Sin, My Soul... Whose Lolita?

Friday, September 16, 2005


Lolita follows the travails of an older man obsessed with a young girl, and was first published … in 1916? 42 years before Vladimir Nabokov's novel, a short story by Heinz von Lichberg titled "Lolita" was published in Germany. Was Nabokov a plagiarist? Or did he suffer from cryptomnesia? Brooke talks to New York Observer columnist Ron Rosenbaum about the line between appropriation and regurgitation.

Comments [1]

Alex Shoykhet from California

As Maar discovered, Nabokov probably lived in the same section of Berlin as von Lichberg. There are apparent similarities between Nabokov's Lolita and von Lichberg's Lolita. These are the facts that survive. So far so good. These facts lead to the four "explanations" the article mentions. These "explanations" are merely conjectures; good ones, no doubt! Therefore, I feel free to propose a fifth conjecture:

In the afterword to Lolita, Nabokov wrote "the initial shiver of inspiration" for Lolita "was somehow prompted by a newspaper story about an ape in the Jardin des Plantes who, after months of coaxing by a scientist, produced the first drawing ever charcoaled by an animal: this sketch showed the bars of the poor creature's cage.”

I don't know Nabokov's feelings on Apes, but could it be that von Lichberg is the Ape in this oblique reference?

Jan. 17 2008 03:47 PM

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