Tuesday October 13th, 2009

A Makeover for Lolita


A while back, I linked to a contest to redesign the cover of Nabokov’s Lolita. We now have a winner. It is not the cover at left. That one is by Suzene Ang of Singapore, and it was chosen as best not by John Bertram, who sponsored the contest, but by John Gall, a brilliant designer and art director at Vintage/Anchor. He said: “It takes a second before you see what is going on. It’s abstract enough to keep it metaphorical, yet literal enough to imply a sense of story. I love the tease of having the type run up the leg. Elegant, with a sense of humor.”

I like his choice more than the grand prize winner, but I can see why it didn’t appeal most to Bertram. One of Bertram’s big complaints about previously published covers was that they focused on Lolita’s sexuality and “serve[d] to re-traumatize the poor girl all over again.” The winner he chose, Lyuba Haleva of Bulgaria, pleased him by focusing on Humbert: “Somehow it all feels right to me and very inspired, and although the typeface is anachronistic and suggests to me a classic European novel, it seems to work.”