It was 55 years ago today that Vladimir Nabokov’s controversial novel Lolita was first published in the US. Nabokov’s remarkable prose is as evocative today as it was in 1958. Facet’s of the author’s great work about a middle-aged lit scholar’s obsession with a 12-year-old girl have been debated since its publication, many arguing the chronology of the tragic events and Humbert Humbert’s fallibility as a narrator. We discuss this, and more of literature’s unreliable narrators, past the break. … Read More
Vladimir Nabokov made the name “Lolita” famous, but the term has come to embody an entire subculture denoted by elaborate Victorian and Rococo-style costumes, youthful — but modest — silhouettes and accessories, and sickly sweet colors. Los Angeles-based photographer Damon Casarez captured these fascinating photos from a behind-the-scenes shoot at a runway event showcasing Southern California’s Lolita designers. Many Lolita enthusiasts argue that the cutesy styles originated as a response to society’s obsession with bare bodies. Others point out that the fashions infantilize women in a disturbing way. See more Lolita fashion photos, which we first spotted on Beautiful/Decay, in our gallery. … Read More
Some books, critics say, are simply unfilmable. And it’s true — until, of course, they get filmed. This year, we feel like we can’t turn around without running into a new film adaptation of a book that has, until now, been generally agreed to be too stylistically complex, too structurally strange, too epic in proportion for the big screen. While we’re still waiting on Pale Fire and 100 Years of Solitude, we’re getting two in the next two weeks alone: Cloud Atlas and Midnight’s Children. Inspired by this turn of events, we’ve put together a list of a few supposedly unfilmable books that have been adapted into films against all odds — some with great success, and others with, well, less success. Read our list after the jump, and add your own unfilmable favorites in the comments! … Read More
Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master opens Friday in limited release — his first film in five years, though we certainly could have been waiting longer. Anderson’s oh-so-thinly-veiled portrait of a cult leader who seems an awful lot like L. Ron Hubbard knocked around Hollywood for a good long while before the writer/director finally found outside financing (more on that later); it’s one of several films — most of them related to religion, the movie industry’s primary hot button — that had to go the indie route when the major studios were afraid to touch them. After the jump, a brief history of movies Hollywood was too scared to make. … Read More
[Editor's note: It's Labor Day, so your devoted Flavorwire team is taking a break. To keep you entertained, we're leaving you with our most popular features of the summer months. This post originally ran June 15th.] We’ve always wondered how many people read specific books to seem cool — and how many people deftly sidestep talking about the books that perhaps cast them in a less-than-flattering light. Recently, we were tickled by an edition of Ask the Paris Review, wherein the always-delightful Sadie Stein answered the question “What’s a book I should read to make girls think I’m smart in a hot way?” by polling her friends and colleagues. The answers, of course, varied widely, proving that it sort of depends on the girl.
Though it’s good to know what to do to seem appealing to the opposite sex, it’s also good to know what not to do — that is, to know which books might send a potential mate running for the hills should they be spotted on your nightstand or peeking out from your back pocket. In the interest of seeing the full picture, we asked both men and women of various sexual orientations to share the books that they think render their devotees totally undateable. So click through to see which titles you should avoid like the plague — or at least hide in a desk drawer somewhere when you’re entertaining — and don’t forget to pitch in with the books that would make you cut and run in the comments. … Read More
Tomorrow would be the 84th birthday of the late, great Stanley Kubrick. To honor his remarkable contributions to film, we’ve taken a look back at the mind-bending aesthetic of the body of his work, beginning with his first color film, The Seafarers, a documentary short that he shot and directed in 1953, to his last, the sexual odyssey starring our favorite controversial but exceedingly talented Scientologist, 1999’s Eyes Wide Shut. As adept at depicting the mundane in painstakingly perfect detail as he was at representing fantastical, freakish worlds beyond the imagination, Kubrick often said that “if it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed.” The Kubrick catalogue is a testament to this brave declaration. Illustrating his exceptional understanding of humanity and the dark depths of the human psyche, click through to revisit his masterful oeuvre through the lens of a brilliant balance between the banal and bizarre design that shows up in every film he ever made. … Read More
Earlier this week, we spotted the first poster for the upcoming (and much anticipated, at least by us) film adaptation of David Mitchell’s stupendous novel Cloud Atlas, and it seemed very familiar — sort of like a combination of the book’s US and UK covers, all glossed over in sepia. Curious, we spent a little time comparing other book covers with the posters of their film adaptations to see which movies maintained the mood of the book’s original cover, which twisted it around completely, and which became more iconic than the original covers. Click through to read through our findings, and let us know if you have any insights of your own on this topic in the comments. … Read More
Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita is one of the most beloved and argued-about novels in the Western canon, and settling on a design aesthetic for the book has always been as challenging as its content. This week, however, Venus febriculosa pointed us to this wonderful project by Sanja Planinic, a graphic design student at the Academy of Fine Arts Sarajevo, who has created a gorgeous series of silkscreened prints portraying the relationship between Humbert Humbert and Lolita with images and text selections from the novel. The images are certainly arresting, and to our minds in many cases reflect the feel of the novel, but it’s a little bit more complicated than that. As Planinic explains, the overpowering black elements stand in for Humbert Humbert, their largeness “a way of presenting his monstrous side,” whereas the “little red childlike interventions are Lolita, only silently present as is her voice in the novel.” Click through to see some of our favorite pages, and then be sure to head here to see larger images and here to check out the project in full. … Read More
Friday is May 25th, which the geeks of the world know as Geek Pride Day! They aren’t the only subculture to have their own yearly celebration, however — and no, we don’t mean the infamous Talk Like A Pirate Day (who does that?). There’s a lot of cool festivities to be had for those in the know, and a lot of them involve dressing up all fancy and walking around in public wearing petticoats and the like. Awesome, right? OK, maybe not, but we know you’re intrigued. Get your calendars ready and check out all the unofficial holidays we have to tell you about after the jump. … Read More
Back in 2009, Venus febriculosa, a blog run by John Bertram, held a book cover competition, asking entrants to redesign Vladimir Nabokov’s classic novel Lolita. Now, Bertram is publishing an entire book of new covers for the novel, each contributed by a prominent designer. Bertram told Imprint that the idea for the contest came after stumbling across Nabokov scholar and translator Dieter E. Zimmer’s gallery of Lolita covers and realizing that they were, by and large, not great.
“Seeing all of the covers grouped together, most of which seemed to fall quite wide of the mark, compelled me to see if there were better covers out there waiting to be born,” he explains. “The fact that the competition was only marginally successful propelled me to further investigation, so I sought out well-known designers and artists who I thought would be able to embrace the challenge… For the gallery of covers in my book, I was interested to see what well-known designers might come up with when freed from editors, publishers and art directors and the constraints implicit in the marketing and selling of books.”
As you may know, we love book covers, and especially Lolita book covers, so obviously we’re more than thrilled about this project. To whet your appetite, we’ve chosen some of our favorites both from the original contest and from the upcoming book — click through to see some seriously great design, and then be sure to check out the rest of the contest entries here. … Read More