NABOKOV, Vladimir. Lolita. Paris: The Olympia Press, 1955.
2 volumes, 8o. Original green printed wrappers (lightly worn and rubbed). Provenance: GRAHAM GREENE, writer (presentation inscription); [Bernie Taupin, composer.]
FIRST EDITION, price hand-corrected on rear wrappers. A REMARKABLE LITERARY ASSOCIATION COPY, INSCRIBED BY NABOKOV TO GRAHAM GREENE on the half-title of volume one: "For Graham Greene November 1959 from Vladimir Nabokov." Nabokov has then drawn a small butterfly and written the quotation: "'green swallowtail dancing waisthigh.'"
Ironically, Lolita sold poorly for Maurice Girodias's Olympia Press. It was not until Graham Greene included the book in a year-end list of best novels in 1955 that public attention focused on the tragic story of Hubert Humbert and Dolores Haze. Both Nabokov and Girodias were dissatisfied with the arrangements for the release of Lolita and both parties were pleased to terminate their contract in 1957. Lolita was not published in the U.S and U.K until 1959 (see lots 234 and 369).
Critic Jeff Edwards notes: "Although Lolita's first printing of 5,000 copies sold out, there were no notable reviews, and the book would likely have gone unnoticed for some time had not respected author and critic Graham Greene, in an interview published in the London Times, called it one of the best books of the year. Greene's statement outraged John Gordon, editor of the popular Sunday Express, who responded in print, calling 'Lolita' 'the filthiest book I have ever read' and 'sheer unrestrained pornography.' The British Home Office ordered customs officials to seize all copies entering the United Kingdom and pressured the French Minister of the Interior to ban the book. On December 20, 1956, the Paris police did just this, and Lolita remained banned in France for two years" (Jeff Edwards, "'Lolita': Complex and often tricky and a 'hard sell'").
INSCRIBED COPIES OF NABOKOV'S "LOLITA" ARE VERY SCARCE. American Book Prices Current does not record a single presentation copy of the first edition of Lolita for at least thirty years. Bibliographers record only five presentation copies of the first edition, including the present, and those inscribed to his wife Véra, his son Dimitri and the early Russian aviatrix Lucy Davidova. A VERY FINE ASSOCIATION COPY OF NABOKOV'S MOST IMPORTANT BOOK. Juliar A28.1.1. (2)