Lolita: Reading ‘Lolita’ in France

Lecture time for 'Lolita: Reading Lolita in France' is approx. 7-10 minutes. If you prefer to listen to me reading this article, find the audio for 'Lolita: Reading Lolita in France' using the search tool in The Sorting House group on Telegram. * Correction: Nabokov published Lolita in 1955, not 1954.
Lolita: Reading Lolita in France
‘Young Girl and Her Kitten Reading by a Fireside’ by James Pelham (1800-1874)


A little backstory; I’ve been consuming one of the random publications that I found amongst a pile of English language books once gifted and subsequently living in my house. It’s called ‘Reading Lolita in Tehran’ by Azar Nifisi. Apparently, a NY Times bestseller, I know not of the author, the acclaimed book or the subjects within and it certainly wasn’t my first choice. After smashing through the most visually appealing of this freebie bunch, I was left with the stragglers that I had to decide between by actually studying the blurbs on the back. Yes, initially I heavily judged these books by their covers. Come on, even if we technically shouldn’t, who actually doesn’t?

After some years of reading almost exclusively in French, the ease of reading again in my mother tongue always delights, especially compared to the clunkiness of my comprehension en Français. As an aside, you may or may not have noticed there is a new tab up on the Menu bar of this website named ‘Resources’. I mention it because I’ve decided to start listing the books available in English (as well as podcasts, playlists, artists etc.) that I enjoy, in no particular order, so that other anglophones looking for inspiration might peruse them, and maybe even enjoy them too. AND, if feeling particularly bold, might even wish to discuss with me further, on The Sorting House telegram group or IRL.

Anyway, upon greedily consuming the most appealing of these few books that had by way of “coincidence” found themselves in my library amongst a sea of many read, half-read and unread French and English language titles. There I was, floating in a ferocious desire to continue digesting these new, second-hand books written in a language I feel most comfortable in, I finally decided to start ‘Reading Lolita in Tehran’ by Azar Nifisi. The issue being that it’s a biographical book by an English literature professor, and it discusses many great works – many of which I haven’t actually read. Hmm, turns out this choice was not so comfortable after all.

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