Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The Lolita Cover Project

by Vladimir Nabokov

The Lolita Cover Project, John Bertram and Marco Sonzogni, editors.

John Bertram and Marco Sonzogni are publishing a book on Lolita covers and asked a slew of cover designers to contribute conceptual covers.

slew also slue
noun Informal
A large amount or number; a lot: a slew of unpaid bills.
Origin: 1830-40, Americanism; [Old Irish Gaelic sluagh or slúag, crowd, throng, multitude, army, host.]

Here is mine:
I’d like to invite you to participate in a book that I am editing called The Lolita Cover Project which uses images (specifically, ‘conceptual’ book covers) and essays about Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita to addresses the challenges and limits of representation (and mis-representation), and the relationship of a book to its cover. The Lolita Cover Project will feature 50 new ‘conceptual’ covers by leading graphic designers specifically commissioned for the book; critical essays on design and representation by Nabokov scholars, artists, art theorists, and designers; and the best submissions from Venus febriculosa’s Lolita Book Cover Contest (In 2009, after discovering Covering Lolita, Dieter E. Zimmer’s online collection of Lolita covers, I sponsored, through my website Venus febriculosa, a book cover competition for a new cover for Lolita. Subsequently, my essay on the competition was published in the ‘Nabokov Online Journal.’).

Many leading designers are on board to provide new covers including:
Mark Abrams, Keira Alexandra, Geetika Alok, Helen Armstrong, Andrey Bashkin, Rachel Berger, Kelly Blair, Yeju Choi, David Drummond, Aliza Dzik, Elaine Fong, John Fulbrook III, Xavi Garcia, David Gee, Elena Giavaldi, Kate Gibb, Elena Grossman, Kathryn Hammill, Lauren Harden, Margot Harrington, Jessica Helfand, Jennifer Heuer, Karen Hsu, Matthew Jacobson, Agata Jakubowska, Jamie Keenan, Philip Kelly, Ely Kim, Gregg Kulick, Chin-Yee Lai, Sueh Li, Ellen Lupton, Mary Voorhees Meehan, Mark Melnick, Peter Mendelsund, Dan Mogford, Catherine Nippe, Linn Olofsdotter, Ingrid Paulson, David Pearson, Caroline Rismont, Diane Shaw, Isaac Tobin, Transfer Studio, Jenny Volvovski, Michel Vrana, Jennifer Wang, Chip Wass, Adrienne Weiss, Barbara deWilde, Gabriele Wilson, Ben Wiseman, Graham Wood, Henry Sene Yee, and April

Lolita is one of my favorite all-time books. Many of the existing covers designed from around the world, showcased here at Covering Lolita, put the focus on an eroticized image of Lolita. I wanted to avoid that and focus on Nabokov's writing. The opening paragraph is one of the most famous.
I went for a light, innocent fragility so I chose Archer Light for the typeface. Although Humbert Humbert, a middle aged man, is seen as the obvious manipulator of young, under aged Lolita, he is also manipulated by Lolita. I filled the type in an innocent baby pink color and towards the end of the paragraph, the tone and color gradient shifts to darker red and finally black to suggest the novel's downward spiral of darkness. I especially like how her name bookends the paragraph. With "Lo. Lee. Ta." taking on a menacing syncopated stabbing rhythm.

The 100 Best First Lines from Novels.

An excellent post by Designer Extraordinaire Peter Mendelsund discussing the process of jacketing works of fiction using Lolita as a case study.

The Paris Review Interviews with Vladimir Nabokov, The Art of Fiction, No. 40. Interviewed by Herbert Gold

Nabokov on different Lolita covers:

Vladimir Nabokov discusses his brillant novel "Lolita" on "Close Up", a circa 1950's CBC program:

The Police singing "Don't Stand So Close to Me," (1980)

The song deals with the mixed feelings of lust, fear and guilt that a female student has for a school teacher and vice versa, and inappropriateness leading to confrontation. The music and lyrics of the song were written by the lead singer of The Police, Sting, who had previously worked as an English teacher that includes the line "Just like the old man in that book by Nabokov."