Nabokov, Kubrick and Stern: Who Created Lolita?

  • Dijana Metlić Academy of Arts, University of Novi Sad, Serbia
Keywords:
Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov, Stanley Kubrick, Bert Stern, Sue Lyon, film adaptation, photography, popular culture

Abstract

In this paper, I analyse the methods used by Stanley Kubrick, the famous film director and Bert Stern, an American photographer, in creating the first “visible” Lolita, relying on Nabokovʼs 1955 controversial book. The novel tells a provocative story about middle-aged university professor who moves from Europe to America in 1947, where he obsessively falls in love with the twelve-year-old Dolores Haze, with whom, by chance, he begins to travel together through USA, in order to extend the duration of their unacceptable sexual relationship. Adapting the novel in the restrictive conditions of film censorship in the early 1960s, Kubrick considerably changed the original Nabokovʼs story making it less provocative and sexually explicit. In this paper I consider Bert Sternʼs advertising campaign for Lolita as an extension of Kubrickʼs film because, his photography cycle shot in a Sag Harbour hotel, near New York, completes and continues Kubrickʼs project, showing Lolitaʼs diverse faces. Stern, rather than Kubrick, holds a prominent position in defining the so-called Lolita look that has left far-reaching consequences on popular culture in the following decades. In this paper I explore the links between Lolita and her creators, their individual contributions to the reception of Lolita in public, and I determine the role Sue Lyon, a young actress, had in this process considering the fact that she was the first flesh and blood Lolita.

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Published
2019-06-27
How to Cite
Metlić, Dijana. 2019. “Nabokov, Kubrick and Stern: Who Created Lolita?”. Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 14 (2), 435–459. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.21301/eap.v14i2.2.