lolita: the story of a cover girl, john bertram & yuri leving, eds.

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Readers of Venus febriculosa will know that in 2009 after discovering Covering Lolita, Dieter Zimmer’s online collection of covers, I sponsored a book cover competition for a new cover for Lolita. In all, 105 entrants from 34 countries submitted a total of 155 entries. Subsequently, I was approached by Yuri Leving, editor of the Nabokov Online Journal about writing an essay on the experience. I readily agreed, and the following year my paper was published. It occurred to me that this is a subject with much more to explore and decided it would be worth taking the project one step further. I contacted book designers, artists, design critics, and Nabokov scholars about participating in an interdisciplinary work exploring the issues uncovered by Covering Lolita and the Venus febriculosa contest. The result is Lolita: The Story of a Cover Girl which contains eighty new covers including a handful of the best covers from the competition along with a dozen essays about Nabokov and design. The forthcoming book will be published by Print Books in August (with the cover you see here by Sulki & Min!). You can see a sampling of some of the covers as well as an interview with me in Recovering Lolita, a wonderful article on Print Magazine’s site! Mary Gaitskill, author of Bad Behavior, is writing the foreword. Pre-order a copy of the book here!

Contributors include:

Stephen Blackwell, Chair, Russian Program, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and author of The Quill and the Scalpel: Nabokov’s Art and the Worlds of Science

Barbara Bloom, Nabokov-obsessed conceptual artist (Revised EvidenceVera’s Butterflies, The Collections of Barbara Bloom)

Sian Cook, London College of Communication and Teal Triggs, Professor of Graphic Design, Royal College of Art, co-directors of the Women’s Design + Research Unit and designers, with Liz McQuiston, of the Pussy Galore conceptual font

Leland de la Durantaye, Gardner Cowles Associate Professor of English at Harvard and the author of the wonderful Style is Matter: The Moral Art of Vladimir Nabokov

Mary Gaitskill, author of several books, including Two Girls, Fat and Thin, Veronica, and Bad Behavior.

John Gall, art director at Vintage and Anchor Books and designer of the latest cover of Lolita, who acted as resident expert and adviser for the contest.

Yuri Leving, Chair, Department of Russian Studies at Dalhousie University and editor of the Nabokov Online Journal

Ellen Pifer, Professor of English & Comparative Literature at the University of Delaware, former president of the International Vladimir Nabokov Society, and editor of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita: A Casebook

Alice Twemlow, Chair and program co-founder, Design Criticism Department, School of Visual Arts and author of What is Graphic Design For?

Duncan White, Co-Editor with Will Normanof Transitional Nabokov

Paul Maliszewski, author of Paperback Nabokov

Dieter E. Zimmer, Author of Wirbelsturm Lolita; A Guide to Nabokov’s Butterflies and Moths; and Nabokov’s Berlin

There are so many incredible designers on board providing new covers including:

Mark Abrams

Keira Alexandra

Geetika Alok

Suzene Ang


Helen Armstrong

Aleksander Bak

Rachel Berger

Laura Berglund

Michael Bierut

Kelly Blair

Davis Carr

Sara Cwynar

Matt Dorfman

Johanna Drucker

David Drummond

Aliza Dzik

Vivienne Flesher

John Fulbrook III

Xavi Garcia

David Gee

Elena Giavaldi

Kate Gibb

Walter Green

Elena Grossman

Lyuba Haleva

Kat Hammill

Lauren Harden & Seth Ferris

Margot Harrington

The Heads of State

Jessica Helfand

Jennifer Heuer

Jessica Hische

Karen Hsu

Agata Jakubowska

Daniel Justi

Jamie Keenan

Philip Kelly

Ely Kim

Marina Mills Kitchen

Gregg Kulick

Chin-Yee Lai

Mark Lazenby

Sueh Li Tan

Ellen Lupton

Mary Voorhees Meehan

Mark Melnick

Peter Mendelsund

Debbie Millman

Razvan Mitoiu

Dan Mogford

Oliver Munday

Susan Murphy

Catherine Nippe

Linn Olofsdotter

Ingrid Paulson

David Pearson

Jason Polan

Laurie Rosenwald

Tanya Rubbak


Paula Scher

Diane Shaw

Yuko Shimizu

Isaac Tobin

Transfer Studio

Anne Ulku

Jenny Volvovski

Michel Vrana

Jen Wang

Chip Wass

Sam Weber

Adrienne Weiss

Barbara deWilde

Gabriele Wilson

Ben Wiseman

Graham Wood

Henry Sene Yee

Anna Zukowska-Zysko

The format will be similar to This Way, a book edited by Marco Sonzogni based upon Venus febriculosa’s 4th book cover competition for Tadeusz Borowski’s This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Please check back soon for more information!



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