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Cover for John Bertram and Yuri Leving, eds., Lolita – The Story of a Cover Girl: Vladimir Nabokov’s Novel in Art and Design, Blue Ash, OH: Print Books, 2013. Offset printing, page size 229 × 229 mm.

The book reflects on the challenge of designing a cover for Lolita (1955) by Vladimir Nabokov, with fresh, speculative cover designs by eighty designers. For the cover of the book of covers, we chose to show what Nabokov himself originally wanted on the jacket of his novel:

“I want pure colors, melting clouds, accurately drawn details, a sunburst above a receding road with the light reflected in furrows and ruts, after rain. And no girls. … There is one subject which I am emphatically opposed to: any kind of representation of a little girl. If we cannot find that kind of artistic and virile painting, let us settle for an immaculate white jacket (rough texture paper instead of the usual glossy kind), with LOLITA in bold black lettering.” (Nabokov’s letter to the first American publisher of Lolita, G. P. Putnam’s Sons, on 1 March 1958.)

This wish has never been respected, so we wanted to honor it with a “cover within a cover”—if not in its entirety, then at least the “LOLITA in bold black lettering” part. (Originally, we also proposed to use a rough, white paper as Nabokov opted for, but the publisher didn’t like the idea. The lime-green was chosen instead, as a liberal reference to the first edition of Lolita.)