NABOKV-L post 0018178, Wed, 15 Apr 2009 18:50:42 -0400

Lolitas -- so called for Nabok ov’s famou s novel .. .

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by Michèle C. Cone

Lolitas -- so called for Nabokov’s famous novel featuring a nymphet who knows more about sex (with both female and male partners) than her pedophile seducer imagined possible in bourgeois America of the 1950s -- are all over the place in contemporary art. But the skinny long-legged flat-chested kid whose mix of awkwardness and grace Humbert Humbert found irresistible is more likely today to be a boy than a girl. A certain role reversal has taken place, as today’s Lolita looks ready to defend herself with a fierce glance, and a gun if necessary, while her Lolito counterpart seems utterly defenseless and from a bookish other world.

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Michèle C. Cone is a New York-based critic and historian. Her latest book is French Modernisms: Perspectives on Art before, during and after Vichy (Cambridge 2001).

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