Videos

Lolita’s Leaping Tailor

In part 1, Chapter 29 of Lolita, Humbert, standing above the sleeping girl, says “For at least two minutes I waited and strained on the brink, like that tailor with his homemade parachute forty years ago when about to jump from the Eiffel Tower” (AnLo 128). Oddly, Appel provides no annotation.

The tailor in question is Franz Reichelt, and his leap was fatal. VN must have seen this newsreel, as most of it is taken up with ill-fated Franz standing on the brink. Humbert’s image is lively enough on its own, but I have to say that it takes on a new flavor after one watches the film.

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Red Meat — Lolita

Perhaps the cleverest of the “Lolita” songs. Not particularly relevant to Nabokov’s novel, except that it, like many other Lolita songs (including the MC Lars song below), contains the “come back home” plea, a lament for Lolita lost.

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MC Lars – Lolita

Next year I will be teaching a seminar course on Lolita. As part of my preparation for talking about the book’s effect on popular culture, I have been using Spotify to listen to songs with “Lolita” in the title. There are an enormous number of them (well over 100 when I stopped looking). I find it fascinating to examine the various narratives, and narrative perspectives, these songs display. Some of the songwriters clearly know Nabokov’s book, while others seem wholly unaware of the source but have nevertheless inherited a set of associations (mostly spurious) that can be traced back to the novel. So to begin, here is a tongue-in-cheek (I hope) song by MC Lars, that mostly tracks with Humbert Humbert’s perspective, both in the sense that it is written after the loss of “Lolita” and in some of the justifications and evasions the speaker employs. Enjoy!

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