Among the problems Nabokov’s Lolita poses for the book designer, probably the thorniest is the popular misconception of the title character. She’s chronically miscast as a teenage sexpot—just witness the dozens of soft-core covers over the years.
I was interested to see what well-known designers might come up with when freed from editors, publishers and art directors and the constraints implicit in the marketing and selling of books. The result, I think, is a sort of meditation on what it means to create a cover for a complicated book, but it’s also about how a cover can add to or change the book’s meaning.They don’t shy away from frank sexuality, but they add layers of darkness and complication. And like Jamie Keenan’s cover—a claustrophobic room that morphs into a girl in her underwear—they provoke without asking readers to abdicate their responsibility.