What are some general points that I can make in examining why Lolita was banned?

1 Answer | Add Yours

akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I think that in making general points about Nabokov's work and its reception that called for its banning, I would suggest that examining some of the prevailing beliefs about the work when it came out.  The fundamental idea of a sexual relationship between an older, middle aged man and a teen girl was jarring to nearly every sensibility during the time period.  To a great extent, it still is today.  The very idea that Nabokov would set out to detail in unfliching detail how the dance of seduction happens between both Lolita and Humbert develops is something that many simply would not accept in conventional norms of morality.  At the same time, I would also suggest that the penchant that Humbert has for young girls is a subject matter that could not, at the time, be accepted into the canon of established literature.  It might be a stretch to see such a premise advocated in modern literature.  In this sphere, I think that Nabokov's work experienced banning and initiated the discussion of banning because it was seen as pornographic.  The fact that the original publishing house for the novel was one that published pornography in France helps to add to this.  The sexual nature of the work was one that led it to be seen as only a sexual work and not something that  probed in an indepth manner the nature of human cruelty in different forms through different relationships.  Perhaps, the desire to ban it was a response and a way to evade the intensely cruel lens that Nabokov views human relationships and human interactions.

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,989 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question