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

The Real Lolita

The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel that Scandalized the World
Nonfiction
(hardcover)
Ecco (US)
September 11, 2018
9780062661920
(ebook)
September 11, 2018
9780062661944
Canadian Edition (hardcover)
Knopf (Canada)
September 11, 2018
9780735272736
A gripping true-crime investigation of the 1948 abduction of Sally Horner and how it inspired Vladimir Nabokov’s classic novel, Lolita

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.

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Praise for The Real Lolita

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

Compassionate and necessary, Sarah Weinman’s The Real Lolita is more than a true-crime achievement. It’s a literary rescue mission, bringing to life the tragic real-life case that forms the dark heart of Nabokov’s classic. You’ll never read Lolita the same way again.

– Robert Kolker, author of Lost Girls

Sarah Weinman’s captivating, heart-rending The Real Lolita offers both nuanced and compassionate true-crime reportage and revelatory cultural and literary history. It will, quite simply, change the way you think about Lolita and ‘Lolitas’ forever.

– Megan Abbott, author of You Will Know Me