The publication of Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita was scandalous, but few seem to know why. One explanation is that Lolita's sexual content offended readers, and while this is in part true, a thorough analysis of the early reviews and criticism of Lolita between 1955 and 1960 reveals that there were many other reasons for the scandal, including the book's humor, its message, and its style. Despite some objections to the book, many commentators came to its defense, but in their attempts to defend the book from accusations of obscenity or immorality, they consistently adopted a negative view of the character Lolita. This article examines these early interpretive trends and their ethical implications.

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