A 1999 article exploring the controversy behind the censorship of Lolita. Chronicles its initial printing in France, followed by its two-year ban shortly thereafter, and ultimately its overwhelming success in the U.S. following its 1958 publication:
"Lolita" was an enormous success, the first book since "Gone With the Wind" to sell 100,000 copies in the first three weeks of publication. The lack of outrage over the book in America might be attributed to the tenor of the times: sex, and even teen sexuality, was 'in.' Elvis Presley was gyrating to the top of the pop charts and films like "Blackboard Jungle" were glamorizing youth and even juvenile delinquency. Parents were uneasy, but they had more glaring affronts to middle-class values to worry about. "Pedophile" was not a term one read in the morning newspaper. A cynic might add that "Lolita" is a complex and often tricky book, and that only the most fanatical Philistine, intent on ferreting out every incidence of filth, was likely to read it to the end.
Essay regarding censorship history of Lolita, including original publishing and impetus for early controversy. Relevant portion includes:
The novel might never have drawn the censors' attention had not Graham Greene selected it as one of the three best books of the year in the 1955 Christmas issue of the Sunday Times. Immediately, John Gordon, the editor of the very popular Sunday Express, took Graham Greene to task in a bitter article which really marked the beginning of the Affaire Lolita: "Without doubt it is the filthiest book I have ever read," wrote Gordon. "Sheer unrestrained pornography... Anyone who published it or sold it here would certainly go to prison.
ACLU response to 1997 censorship hearings in Oklahoma. Relevant portion includes:
"There is nothing prurient about The Tin Drum," Bertin said. "If the child pornography laws can be applied to The Tin Drum, then Lolita is off limits too, along with pictures of some fertility rites in other cultures, pictures of ancient Greek vases, and some paintings by the renowned artist Balthus. The First Amendment requires room for works of serious artistic, historical, or educational merit, even if they involve sexually suggestive imagery involving minors. The child pornography laws are intended to prevent sexual abuse of children, not to stifle artistic expression or rewrite history."
Essay published by Connecticut College regarding Nabokov's politics in his novels. Interesting and insightful quotes regarding Lolita, including:
It was an interesting thing to do. Why did I write any of my books, after all? For the sake of the pleasure, for the sake of the difficulty. I have no social purpose, no moral message; I've no general ideas to exploit, I just like composing riddles with elegant solutions. (SO 16)