Banned Book: Lolita

In celebration of Banned Books Week, Politics & Prose Bookstore tips its cap to the books that offended, outraged, and generally poisoned the minds of the masses with wanton creative expression. Though our selections make great kindling, we assure you they’re much more enjoyable when read. Join us all week on the slide into moral turpitude with the best censored reading material the canon has to offer.

Lolita was banned as obscene in France from 1956-1959, in England from 1955-59, Argentina in 1959, and New Zealand in 1960. In 1958, Orville Prescott wrote in The New York Times that these acts of censorship actually led to its American publication being “preceded by a fanfare of publicity.” Prescott noted: “Mr. Nabokov is particularly lucky because his book was not censored in the United States, but in France of all places. What more could he hope for?” Though no longer banned, Nabokov’s tale of twisted love remains a point of contention in literature curricula across the United States, challenged as recently as 2006 in Marion County public library in Ocala, Florida, for its themes of pedophilia and incest.

Some sentences worthy of censorship:

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta. –

Read the 1958 review of Lolita in the New York Times, which addresses the French ban and the book’s “dull, dull, dull” content.