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According to new German scholarship, Vladimir Nabokov plagiarized the most famous -- and notorious -- of his works, the controversial novel Lolita:
A novella, published in 1916 by Heinz von Eschwege, describes a girl called Lolita who obsesses and then seduces the narrator. The narrator, who is lodging in her house while on holiday, is distraught when the girl dies at the end of the story - astoundingly similar to Nabokov's book, published in 1956, claims Michael Maar, a literary scholar.
"The name is the same, the title, the fact that it is written in the first person," he told the Telegraph. "There is a close description of first seeing Lolita, looking into her eyes and seeing she was more than a girl, more than a child. The narrators are lodgers and both have passionate affairs and then Lolita dies."
Furthermore, both Nabokov and von Eschwege lived in the same area of Berlin for 15 years, creating the opportunity for Nabokov to have read the novella years prior to writing his own, full-length novel with a similar plot and details. Maar minimizes the damage this will do to Nabokov's reputation, saying that the original 18-page novella had nowhere near the artistry of Nabokov's novel, but plagiarism is plagiarism. It won't help Nabokov's reputation that von Eschwege was also a Nazi journalist:
Von Eschwege, who wrote under the name Heinz von Lichberg, became a well known journalist in the Third Reich, not least for his commentary on national radio of Adolf Hitler's torch-lit procession to the Reichstag after becoming chancellor in 1933.
So Nabokov stole the central idea, subplots, and character names for his novel about a middle-aged man having an affair with a schoolgirl from an ex-Nazi writer. Somehow, I think that the literary world may still re-evaluate Vladimir Nabokov, Maar's protest notwithstanding.Sphere It View blog reactions
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