New to Penguin Modern Classics, a madman's erotic obsession is twisted into fairytale in Nabokov's precursor to Lolita
Nabokov described this novella, written in Paris in 1939 but only published twenty years later, as 'the first little throb of Lolita'. The plot is similar: a middle-aged man wedding an unattractive widow in order to indulge his paedophilic obsession with her daughter.
However, The Enchanter has an utterly different atmosphere, as time, place and even names remain a mystery. Nabokov transforms his protagonist's attempts to lull his twelve-year-old step-daughter into a state of 'enchantment' into a graceful, chilling fairytale.