Lolita has courted controversy since its publication in Paris in September 1955. Vladimir Nabokov's most famous novel was published by Olympia Press under the imprint of the Travellers Companion series, notorious for its sexually explicit subjects. More than fifty years on, Lolita continues to challenge readers and critics alike with difficult questions about the relationship between formal aesthetics and sexual content, the boundaries between literature and pornography. In this Readers' Guide, Christine Clegg examines the critical history of Lolita through a broad range of interpretations. Although early criticism of the text polarised around 'that' question - is it literature or is it pornography? - the influence of American critics such as Lionel Trilling quickly secured canonical status for the novel. A compelling aspect of Lolita criticism is the way in which that question continues to return in different forms.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Lolita has been the subject of diverse critical attention, beyond 'Nabokov Studies': from Richard Rorty's philosophical inquiry into the ethics of cruelty, to Rachel Bowlby's feminist analysis of the rhetoric of consumer culture in the novel. All of the main critical approaches to the novel are covered by this indispensable sourcebook.