Publication details

Music Appropriations of Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita



Year of publication 2016
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description Ever since its publication in 1955, Vladimir Nabokov’s novel Lolita has seduced minds of many readers. Throughout the 20th century, it interchangeably served either as an overwhelmingly appreciated literary piece or a doomed morally inappropriate one. Although the story has become more accepted over the years, and societies became more open towards the representation of topics such as pedophilia in the arts, nowadays it is still to a great extent considered a violation of the moral and social values that a great majority of people share. From being an outcast, it rather quickly became an attraction for ordinary people’s discussions as well as an inspiration for the artists focusing on media such as film, music, or literature, in which many different adaptations and appropriations gradually arose. The focus of this paper is the way the story and the image of Lolita has been reflected in music and music video industries since 2000 onwards. It examines the way the archetype of a nymphet dating back to the Ancient Greece is being reborn as a symbol representing the youthful desirability of the contemporary popular music. It focuses on five artists and their songs: Lana Del Rey’s “Lolita” and “Off to the Races”, Alizée’s “Moi… Lolita”, Melanie Martinez’s “Carousel”, Marilyn Manson’s “Heart-Shaped Glasses (When the Heart Guides the Hand)”, and Sia’s “Elastic Heart”. In these pieces, I look at the different appropriation strategies that the artists use, and the way they model the audience’s perception of media content in regard to the framework of the whole social system. Further, I analyze those elements of the appropriations that influence or shape the way people perceive the novel, as well as the character of Lolita, who she is and how she is portrayed. Being represented by women with voices, the empowerment of these embodied versions of Lolita becomes one of the crucial topics of discussion. Others include escape, liberation, and age-awareness.
Related projects:

You are running an old browser version. We recommend updating your browser to its latest version.

More info