"Who is that viper that likes them post-diaper?"
June 19, 2022 10:38 AM   Subscribe

Jamie Loftus (previously previously previously previously previously) has a 10-episode "The Lolita Podcast": "This story and its titular character have been adapted, misinterpreted, and twisted over the years by Hollywood, by music, by fashion, by fans of the book, and occasionally by the author himself. Lolita has gone from the tragic story of an abused 13-year-old girl to a cultural narrative that frames her as a seductress and to blame what happened to her. So how did all of this happen?"


1 - "Dolores, Not Lolita "

Who is Dolores Haze? Since Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov was published in 1955, readers have formed strong opinions on the story’s narrator and his framing of the titular character. But Lolita and Dolores Haze are far from the same person.

2 - "Volodya Takes America"

Vladimir Nabokov is your favorite author? Name five of his short stories written in Berlin in the 1930s. This week we look into how the author of Lolita's attempts at writing around the book's themes pre-dated his masterwork by several decades, the endless saga of getting Lolita published, some of the story’s earliest critical misinterpretations and the life of one of the 20th century’s best-regarded authors.

3 - "How Did They Ever Make a Movie of Lolita? (1962)"

Well, they didn't. This week, Jamie dives into the backstory to Stanley Kubrick's 1962 adaptation of Lolita, interviews one of the world's foremost Kubrick scholars, examines Vladimir Nabokov's involvement and how the first Lolita, Sue Lyon, was treated on set and in media.

4 - "Dolores, Psychology, and Survivors"

What can survivors of abuse take away from the experiences of Nabokov's Dolores Haze? It depends on who you talk to. This week, Jamie examines the popular psychologies of Freud and Kinsey that Dolly would have been surrounded by, and with two prominent psychologists -- Lucia Williams and Michael Lamb -- about the value Dolores's story has to students of psychology today. We also speak with Sarah Weinman about "The Real Lolita," survivors Alisson Wood ("Being Lolita") and Bindu Bansinath ("How Lolita Freed Me From My Own Humbert") about the role of Lolita in their own processing and healing from childhood trauma.

5 - "Dolores Onstage"

"Who is that viper that likes them post-diaper?" This is just one of the objectively terrifying lyrics in a botched Broadway musical of Lolita -- the first an expensive, campy musical from the writer of My Fair Lady in the 70s, and another gritty reboot from Edward Albee starring Edward Albee in the 80s. We speak to the actors who played Lolita about the public pressures put on by the productions and the public, look at the many stage failures from the inside and out, and listen to lighthearted Broadway tunes about the worst crime a human can commit.

6 - "Lolita the Cover Girl, Lolita the Pop Star"

How long have we been judging Lolita by its cover? To be fair, they're not much help. This week, Jamie guides you through a crash course on Lolita/nymphet aesthetics -- when we say 'Lolita,' what are we really talking about? We take a look at the visual legacy of Lolita's book covers, persistence in advertising and how misreads of the text have been haunting pop music for generations.

7 - "(Part 1): That Time David Mamet Wrote a Draft of Lolita (And Other Hollywood Tragedies)"

It's high time we talk about the 1997 movie adaptation of Lolita by Adrian Lyne. Between Stanley Kubrick's adaptation in 1962 and Dominique Swain playing Lolita in the '90s. In part one of this two-parter, we take a look at knock-off Lolita productions, how the conversation around child sex abuse changes in Hollywood and America in the 80s and 90s, and how Stranger Danger misses the mark going into the '90s.

7 - "(Part 2): Lolita In the 90s"

In Part 2 of our episode on the Lolita 1997 movie adaptation, we dig into America in the 90s -- a wave of movies full of teen girls as sexual demon, how The Long Island Lolita redefined Dolores to a new generation, and dive into the complex production and release of Adrian Lyne's Lolita.

8 - "Dolores Logs In"

This week, Jamie dives down the rabbit hole of Lolita blogs and fan communities, beginning in the early 2000s and through now, and a look at the non-sexual nymphet fashion movement that Nabokov's book inspired. It's... complicated.

9 - "The Four Lolitas"

On the next to last episode of Lolita Podcast, Jamie takes a look at the lives and careers of the four women who played Dolores Haze in the four major adaptations to date.

10 - "Poems That Take 1000 Years to Die"

On the finale of Lolita Podcast, we look at the legacy of Dolores Haze -- where she's been, and where she may be going.
posted by AlSweigart (13 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
Oh this is perfect for me, thank you. My high school English teacher gave the book to me for graduation and it was one of the movies I refused to see until I read the book, which took 20 years for me to get around to. The thing that I can empathize with here, is that at least for me, and maybe (hopefully not) it says something about me, that the realization of abuse in the book is extremely subtle. It's much more apparent to me in the '97 movie, which I couldn't even finish. My sense of the story is a land of contrasts, so this should help me sort through them.
posted by rhizome at 11:51 AM on June 19

There are lots of "previouslies"'on the Blue, but the story of the real young woman's story behind it is both fascinating and tragic.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 12:34 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]

I listened to this after listening to the Cathy podcast when it was posted here. Both of those were great. Lolita is a bit harrowing, but she digs into the whole thing much deeper than I expected and I came away with a better appreciation of Nabakov's novel and the real subject matter which is so easily misunderstood.

Not truly vibing with this post title, but really do recommend the full measure of this podcast if this is something you're even slightly curious about. Because this really really lays it ALL out, and confronting it this aggressively may be the only way to incorporate this novel into our society.
posted by hippybear at 12:35 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]

Great podcast. Loftus is always thoughtful, but I was particularly impressed by this one.
posted by eotvos at 12:41 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]

Lolita has gone from the tragic story of an abused 13-year-old girl
When the abuse begins, she's 12.
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:01 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]

psyched to listen, ty.

cliff notes: humbert is not the protagonist.
posted by j_curiouser at 1:18 PM on June 19 [4 favorites]

I listened to this while running long runs over the winter and let me tell you that put me in a strange place; I found it hard to listen to, sometimes, because of the content. The podcast is really well-done and well-researched and now I notice ill-informed references and mispronunciations of Nabokov all over.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 1:36 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]

This is a funny coincidence, I've had Lolita on my shelf for years but only got around to reading it a few weeks ago.

To say it's *only* a condemnation is a little misleading, Humbert is an obvious unreliable narrator, but also honest enough with the audience that you are aware he's like ... Sad, abusive to his (adult) wife, mentally unstable, and plotting henious thinga even before the actual abuse begins. The beginning of the book has some sensual scenes tho, more than you'd expect if you took line that all the censors are just going off the book cover and misreading.

Later the tone really shifts, after Humbert abducts Lolita and they go on their great-American-novel road trip... None of those sex scenes are explicit and it *is* very explicit that Lolita is being abused... Both Humbert and Dolores know it...

But then you get to the ending, and on my version of the book (from the 70s) this seems to be the part that stuck in the reviewer's minds. Humbert gets his monologues about how he loves her, the sacredness of their bond. And the narrative brings in another, *even worse* predator (worse bc he doesn't just do them underaged but I'm groups with kinks and drugs etc) and then Humbert has farcical 20 page fight against this guy which he eventually wins...

In narrative terms, he's a villain but he gets this farcical "hero" moment of defeating the bigger bad guy...

The other thing about Lolita is it is so well written and has all these fantastic passages... I read the section where he is contemplating drowning Dolores' mom out loud to my husband and it's great and there are so many great passages like that? But on the other hand, would I re-read Lolita just for those parts, probably not. In the authors note Nabokov mentions not re-reading the book again after edits also.
posted by subdee at 2:27 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]

Absolutely my favorite of her limited-run podcasts to date.
posted by moonbeam at 2:28 PM on June 19

Lolita is best understood when thrown into sharp relief.
posted by Ignorantsavage at 7:23 PM on June 19 [8 favorites]

This is the only one of Loftus’ series I haven’t listened to, mostly because I haven’t read the novel…. How will it play for the ignorant?
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:53 AM on June 23

GenjiandProuse, I've read the novel, but not for twenty years. I think Loftus does an unusually good job at providing context for everything in the podcast. And, most of it is actually about the critical and media response to the book and later productions and pop-culture material based on it rather than the book itself. I've never seen any of that stuff, except for one film, but found it very understandable. (I don't think I actually need to see any of them now. I'd recommend the podcast instead.)
posted by eotvos at 10:51 AM on June 23 [2 favorites]

I enjoyed Loftus' Mensa podcast and I haven't read the novel. I shied away from listening to this because I couldn't picture her tone on the Mensa series lined up with such a serious topic.

I just listened to the first episode and I was blown away. Funny, snarky and yet did the seriousness of the subject justice. I can't wait to listen to the rest.
posted by mmascolino at 5:15 PM on June 23 [2 favorites]

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