‘Lolita’ Book Covers Are a Tad Oversexed

Balthus, Girl with Cat (1937)

Viewed all together, the covers of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita are oversexed to a disturbing degree, the New Republic points out.

From the 1962 poster for Stanley Kubrick’s infamous film, which features a coquettish young girl in red-heart sunglasses lasciviously licking a lollipop, to the full lips which dominate the cover of Vintage’s 50th anniversary edition, nearly every cover seems designed to titillate, rendering the reader complicit with Humbert Humbert’s most illicit urges.

The French-Polish artist Balthus also gets in on the act. One of his “girls and cats” portraits of a reclining young girl, her underwear provocatively visible, appears on the cover of a 1995 edition published by Penguin.

1969, Mondadori Editore / F. Bocca, Milano, Italy Photo: © Chow Kai Deng/Flickr

1969 edition,  Mondadori Editore / F. Bocca, Milano, Italy
Photo: © Chow Kai Deng/Flickr

Some cover are even more overtly sexual, depicting the title character completely naked. The New Republic argues that such illustrations are a pretty profound misrepresentation of the text, which does not present Humbert’s relationship with young Dolores in a positive light.

Additional covers can be found at the Biblioklept and Los Arcinigas blogs.

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