The Real Lolita

The Real Lolita

The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World

by Sarah Weinman

CD-Audio Publication Date: 11/09/2018

"The Real Lolita is a tour de force of literary detective work. Not only does it shed new light on the terrifying true saga that influenced Nabokov's masterpiece, it restores the forgotten victim to our consciousness." --David Grann, author of Killers of the Flower Moon

Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita is one of the most beloved and notorious novels of all time. And yet, very few of its readers know that the subject of the novel was inspired by a real-life case: the 1948 abduction of eleven-year-old Sally Horner.

Weaving together suspenseful crime narrative, cultural and social history, and literary investigation, The Real Lolita tells Sally Horner's full story for the very first time. Drawing upon extensive investigations, legal documents, public records, and interviews with remaining relatives, Sarah Weinman uncovers how much Nabokov knew of the Sally Horner case and the efforts he took to disguise that knowledge during the process of writing and publishing Lolita.

Sally Horner's story echoes the stories of countless girls and women who never had the chance to speak for themselves. By diving deeper in the publication history of Lolita and restoring Sally to her rightful place in the lore of the novel's creation, The Real Lolita casts a new light on the dark inspiration for a modern classic.
True crime
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Sarah Weinman

Sarah Weinman is the editor of Women Crime Writers: Eight Suspense Novels from the 1940s and 50s and Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives: Stories From The Trailblazers of Domestic Suspense. She is News Editor for Publishers Marketplace, where she works on Publishers Lunch. Her essays, features, and reviews have appeared in many print and online publications, including the Guardian, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New Yorker and Washington Post. Her features have twice been finalists for Canadian National Magazine Awards.

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