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    Sale 12260

    Books & Manuscripts

    16 June 2016, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 130

    NABOKOV, Vladimir. Lolita. Paris: The Olympia Press, 1955.

    Price Realised  


    NABOKOV, Vladimir. Lolita. Paris: The Olympia Press, 1955.

    2 volumes, 8°. Original green printed wrappers (a few small ink stains, edges lightly rubbed, a soft crease to vol.1). Provenance: William Keepers Maxwell (1908-2000) American author, editor at the New Yorker (presentation inscription from the author); Peter Lubin, Nabokov scholar, collector, and friend (presentation inscription from William Maxwell on half-title dated April 1985).

    FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE, with printed price "Francs: 900" on back cover. Juliar’s “issue a” with the inner form of the fifth signature in volume one uninked (see below).

    A REMARKABLE ASSOCIATION COPY, INSCRIBED BY NABOKOV TO WILLIAM MAXWELL on the first blank of volume one: "For William Maxwell from Vladimir Nabokov April 1956."

    In 1955, William Maxwell became Nabokov’s editor at The New Yorker after Katharine White stepped down from her role. Nabokov’s first work in the New Yorker was a poem, “Literary Dinner,” which appeared in 1942, shortly after he arrived in America, and which marked the beginning of his long-standing relationship with the magazine. “Nabokov picked the New Yorker up and, in literary daring and true sophistication, brought it to a new place. But the association with the magazine did something for him as well. It established a name for him in the United States and…afforded him his first great public success” (Ben Yagoda, About Town: The New Yorker and the World It Made, 2001, p.227).

    In Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years, Brian Boyd notes: “The novelist William Maxwell, Katharine White’s successor as Nabokov’s editor at the New Yorker, considers that no other New Yorker contributor, with the possible exception of Rebecca West, was as loyal as Nabokov to the magazine” (p.144). “Nabokov would enjoy the warm and witty tributes to his work that he received from…the talented novelist William Maxwell” (p.293). In his introductory remarks given at the American Academy of Arts and Letters on the occasion of Nabokov’s Award of Merit in 1969, Maxwell noted: “Mr. Nabokov is the phoenix we had no reason to expect. He is one more in the line of great Russian storytellers, and, strangely, he is our own. We got him through accident; history displaced him. Personal deprivation made him a great literary artist… His account of a heartless middle-aged man’s sexual pursuit of an even more heartless pre-adolescent girl turns out in the end to be, by feat of prestidigitation, heartbreaking… He is the vaudeville magician par excellence, astonishing us again and again by producing out of the air, in front of our eyes, life untampered with. He is also a poet dealing in prose fiction with the shifting, fictitious nature of reality, with the artifice that we call Time, with the aurora borealis of memory. There is no discoverable limit to the range of his talent. And sadness is his very home” (Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the National Institute of Arts and Letters. Second Series, No.20. New York, 1970. Publication No. 262 [pp.23-24]).

    In April 1985, William Maxwell inscribed his presentation copy of Lolita to commemorate his gift to his friend, the Nabokov scholar Peter Lubin. Critic William Woodin Rowe quotes Lubin’s article, “Kickshaws and Motley” in his 1971 work, Nabokov’s Deceptive World. In his footnote, Rowe notes: “Recently speaking of Peter Lubin with the present writer, Nabokov said: ‘He’s a genius.’ And of the parodic interview in Lubin’s article Nabokov intriguingly offered: ‘He’s more like me than I am’” (p.43).

    INSCRIBED COPIES OF THE FIRST EDITION OF NABOKOV'S "LOLITA" ARE VERY SCARCE. American Book Prices Current records only two presentation copies in the last 40 years. Bibliographers record approximately 6 presentation copies of the first edition, including copies inscribed to his wife Véra, his son Dimitri, Graham Greene, William and Alice James Jr., and the early Russian aviatrix Lucy Davidova. A VERY FINE ASSOCIATION COPY OF NABOKOV'S MOST IMPORTANT BOOK. Juliar A28.1.1 “issue a” (with the uninked impression of the inner form of the fifth signature in volume one, as described by Juliar, see: http://www.vnbiblio.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Lolita-1-83.pdf).

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