Lolita is Published in the United States

Due to its subject matter, Nabokov was unable to find an American publisher for Lolita after finishing it in 1953.

After four refusals, he finally resorted to Olympia Press in Paris, September 1955. Although the first printing of 5,000 copies sold out, there were no substantial reviews. Eventually, at the end of 1955, Graham Greene, in an interview with the (London) Times, called it one of the best novels of 1955. This statement provoked a response from the (London) Sunday Express, whose editor called it "the filthiest book I have ever read" and "sheer unrestrained pornography." British Customs officers were then instructed by a panicked Home Office to seize all copies entering the United Kingdom. In December 1956, the French followed suit and the Minister of the Interior banned Lolita (the ban lasted for two years). Its eventual British publication by Weidenfeld & Nicolson caused a scandal that contributed to the end of the political career of one of the publishers, Nigel Nicolson.

By complete contrast, American officials were initially nervous, but the first American edition was issued without problems by G.P. Putnam's Sons in 1958, and was a bestseller, the first book since Gone with the Wind to sell 100,000 copies in the first three weeks of publication.

Lolita is one of the most controversial novels of the 20th-century, in which the rhetoric of the protagonist both captivates and repels. The story deals with the desire of a middle-aged pedophile Humbert Humbert, the narrator, for a 12-year-old girl. "Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins," he starts his story. Humbert is said to be a metaphor for the writer and his art, and for the old world - Humbert is an European expatriate - encountering the new, represented by an American teenage girl, in all its vulgarity. Humbert keeps a prison-diary of his lifelong fascination with pubescent "nymphets". The first is Annabel Leigh, who dies of typhus, but then he finds Dolores Haze, his Lolita, in a New England town. She reminds him of the little girl he loved as a boy. During the course of the story, Humbert loses her to Clare Quilty, a playwright and pornographic filmmaker. Humbert kills him and dies in a prison of a heart attack. Lolita dies in childbirth as delivering a stillborn daughter.