📙 Lolita

  Poetry & Prose    Books / People

“Lolita” is the 1955 novel by Vladimir Nabokov. This book, this is a controversial/sensitive one. But basically, you know this, I’m sure. And, you’ll see below I list the range of books, be they risqué or otherwise. The novel is famed for its controversial subject: the protagonist — a middle-aged literature professor — is obsessed with a 12-year-old girl. The novel was originally written in English and first published in Paris in 1955 by Olympia Press. [1]  “Lolita” quickly attained a classic status and many now consider it one of the greatest works of 20th century literature.

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[1]   Olympia Press was a Paris-based publisher, launched in 1953 by Maurice Girodias as a rebranded version of the Obelisk Press he inherited from his father, one: Jack Kahane. It published a mix of erotic fiction and avant-garde literary fiction. Olympia Press was the first publisher willing to print William S. Burroughs’s avant-garde, sexually explicit “Naked Lunch”, which soon became famous. Other notable ‘firsts’ included J. P. Donleavy’s “The Ginger Man”; Samuel Beckett’s French trilogy “Molloy, Malone Dies,” and “The Unnamable”; Henry Miller’s trilogy “The Rosy Crucifixion,” consisting of Sexus, Nexus and Plexus; “A Tale of Satisfied Desire” by Georges Bataille; the “Story of O” by Pauline Réage; Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg’s “Candy”; Alex Austin’s “The Blue Guitar” and a critical book on Scientology by Robert Kaufman. However it is now most famous for having been the first to publish “Lolita.” On the issue of censorship, back in the 1950s and early 1960s banned books did not enjoy any legal protection or proper copyright, because a book confiscated by authorities could not be deposited at the British Library or Library of Congress. The law made no distinction between works written solely as pornography and those with more serious literary intentions. Thus France was the ideal place to publish such books but the issues of ownership and copyright was rather opaque.
As William E. Jones (2019) writes, Maurice Girodias (1919–1990) inherited Obelisk Press from his father, Jack Kahane (1887–1939). Kahane, an Englishman and a writer, had founded Obelisk to publish risque books, his own and those by other authors. He took advantage of a loophole in French law that allowed English language books published in France to escape censorship. (They could, however, be confiscated by customs officials upon importation into the United States and United Kingdom.) In the early 20th c., obscenity law in the English speaking world applied not only to images but to the written word, and almost any book, even James Joyce’s Ulysses, could be considered pornography.
In his younger years Maurice would do illustrations for Obelisk titles but when Jack Kahane soon after the start of WWII, he inherreted the whol busines. He changed his surname from his Jewish father’s to his Catholic mother’s (Girodias) and refrained from publishing any risque books whilst German forces were occupying France. After the Liberation, he revived Obelisk Press’s more engaging books to sell books to the American soldiers still hanging out in Europe after the close of WWII. Yet it wasn’t long before Girodias lost Obelisk in a takeover by French publishing conglomerate Hachette. Not to be deterred, in 1953, he Olympia Press, named after:

Olympia -- by Edouard Manet
— by Edouard Manet (1832–1883) (1863). To be seen and taken in — oh just observe her silk slippers and necklace of string — at @ Musée d’Orsay, Paris.
It has been said that, “Girodias was a bit of a scoundrel, taking advantage of the ambiguous copyright status of some books to publish pirate editions at considerable profit.” For instance, he often found himself in court, sometimes to defend himself on charges of obscenity and at other times, to settle lawsuits brought by disgruntled authors seeking royalty payments.” Girodias tended not to pay his writers, if he could avoid it, not to document his work, or even live up to his contracts. He was involved in litigation concerning e.g., “Lolita,” and the “Story of O,”. In the case of O, he won — setting a great deal of copyright precedents in so doing — regarding Lolita, he lost. We should note however, that Girodias, by publishing such books, saw himself as a part of the great French cultural legacy.
Regarding erotica, Olympia Press published the Traveller’s Companion series, a line of English language books with plain green covers looking more or less like respectable French publications. They were put on sale in places close to where British tourists would be congregating to return back home (train stations and ports). Copies of Traveller’s Companion books were also smuggled into the UK by a runner named Patrick Kearney. The story goes that he sold them in a plain brown wrapper for wads of cash to a character in dark glasses named Sammy, who saw then facilitated the clandestine circulation of these books across London and beyond — think the dodgy wheeler-dealer: Arthur Daley.

Arthur Daley is a mid-level professional criminal of rather mature years, a minor con man eternally involved in dodgy dealing
You make contact with your customer. Understand their needs. And then flog them something they could well do without.”
* Arthur Daley is a mid-level professional criminal of rather mature years, a minor con man eternally involved in dodgy dealings and usually seen puffing Castella Panatella cigars.
“The world is your lobster my son.”


The English language
Booker / Nobel / Pulitzer
Elizabethan era / “Love letters”
“Definitive List of Literary Works”
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Glossary of works, writers & literary devices:
📙 Books       📕 Poets       📗 Thinkers       📘 Writers

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Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost
Simone de Beauvoir (1908–1986) was a French writer, philosopher and political activist. She is known for her 1949 treatise The Second Sex, a detailed analysis of women's oppression and a foundational tract of contemporary feminism.
The Second Sex
Delta of Venus
Delta of Venus
A Room of one's own
A Room of One’s Own
War and Peace is the 1869 novel by Russian author Leo Tolstoy. It is regarded as a classic of world literature. (The novel chronicles the French invasion of Russia and the impact of the Napoleonic era on Tsarist society through the stories of five Russian aristocratic families.) Tolstoy said War and Peace is "not a novel, even less is it a poem, and still less a historical chronicle." Tolstoy regarded Anna Karenina as his first true novel.
War and Peace
The Trial, by Franz Kafka (1914 [1925]) -- A terrifying psychological trip into the life of one Joseph K., an ordinary man who wakes up one day to find himself accused of a crime he did not commit, a crime whose nature is never revealed to him. Once arrested, he is released, but must report to court on a regular basis--an event that proves maddening, as nothing is ever resolved. As he grows more uncertain of his fate, his personal life--including work at a bank and his relations with his landlady and a young woman who lives next door--becomes increasingly unpredictable. As K. tries to gain control, he succeeds only in accelerating his own excruciating downward spiral.
The Trial
Brave New World (1932) is a dystopian novel by English author Aldous Huxley. Set in a futuristic World State, whose citizens are environmentally engineered into an intelligence-based social hierarchy, the novel anticipates huge scientific advancements in reproductive technology, sleep-learning, psychological manipulation and classical conditioning that are combined to make a dystopian society which is challenged by only a single individual: the story's protagonist (one Bernard Marx). In 1999, the Modern Library ranked Brave New World at number five on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th c.
Brave New World
Beloved is a 1987 novel by the late American writer Toni Morrison. The novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988 and, in a survey of writers and literary critics compiled by The New York Times, it was ranked the best work of American fiction from 1981 to 2006. The work, set after the American Civil War of 1861 to 1865, was inspired by the life of Margaret Garner, an African American who escaped slavery by crossing the Ohio River to Ohio, a free state. Garner was subsequently captured and decided to kill her infant daughter rather than have her taken into slavery.
The Grapes of Wrath

The Prophet is a book of 26 prose poetry fables written in English by the Lebanese-American poet and writer Kahlil Gibran. The Prophet has been translated into over 100 different languages, making it one of the most translated books in history. Moreover, it has never been out of print.The Prophet
“If you love somebody, let them go, if they don’t return, they were never yours.”
The Essential Rumi, by Rumi ~ e.g. ~ 'Lovers don't finally meet somewhere. They're in each other all along.'The Essential Rumi
“Lovers do not finally meet somewhere. They are in each other all along.”
Ways of Escape, a journey of sorts -- 'I was dead, deader than dead because, I was still alive.'Ways of Escape:
a journey of sorts

A short excerpt from the book: “I was dead, deader than dead because, I was still alive.”
The Significance of Literature, the podcast series.The Significance of

A podcast series that chronologically charts the key works of poetry and prose.

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