For this page, I wanted to focus on the character of Lolita herself, and the popular culture that a young girl like her would like in the 1950’s. We only ever see Lolita from Humbert’s gaze, and he paints her as something other than an average teenage girl. But that is exactly what she is, and we can better see this when we take a look at the types of media she would have enjoyed. The musical artists I’ve chosen to include were all popular in particular with tweens and teens, as Lolita was for most of the novel. Elvis, Paul Anka, and Connie Francis were all huge with the tween- and teen-set in the fifties.

Elvis Presley performing Blue Suede Shoes
Paul Anka performing Diana in 1957
Connie Francis singing Who’s Sorry Now?

Musicals are said to be one of Lolita’s favorite movie genres, and there’s no classic musical more popular than Singin’ In The Rain. While we never hear of her watching tv shows – not surprising, as the television age did not really begin until the 1950’s, after the novel takes place – one of her other favorite movie genres is the Western, so she very well may have enjoyed a show like Gunsmoke. As for the perfume ad, Humbert Humbert worked in the business of creating ads such as this one when he came to America. We see that Lolita, much like many young girls, ripped out magazine ads, such as that for perfume.

Singin’ in the Rain, the classic 1952 musical
intro from Gunsmoke, a popular western tv show that began in 1955
a Chanel perfume ad from the 1950’s

Lolita, like many tween and teen girls, does not ever really show much of an interest in the news. But these are surely some news events that a young girl would pay attention to in the 1950’s. The death of film star James Dean would have been on Lolita’s radar, as would a scandal involving film and tv star Lucille Ball possibly being a communist. As for the first ever ABC television broadcast, this seems like something that would have been just novel enough to interest a young girl.

newspaper announcing the death of James Dean
scandal involving tv star Lucille Ball
ABC’s first television broadcast from 1956

As the story is told from Humbert Humbert’s point-of-view, it is easy to forget sometimes that Lolita is only a young girl. But if we think of her in this way, and explore the kinds of media that a tween or teen girl like Lolita would have enjoyed, we see what Lolita was really like, outside of Humbert’s depiction of her.