Summer 1966 • Vol. XXVIII No. 3 NonfictionJune 1, 1966 |

The Morality of Lolita

People talk of the art of the future, meaning by art of the future some especially refined new art which they imagine will be developed out of that exclusive art of one class which is now considered the highest art. But no such new art of the future can or will be found.—What Is Art? (1896) But the art of the twentieth century has been, by and large, of the kind Tolstoy declared would not—must not—happen. Nearly all our really brilliant literature, in Europe and America, has been of that kind and not of the kind he prescribed. And though there are many varieties within the huge body of modern art, the type Tolstoy would have most abominated, the type he was most talking about, is near enough epitomized in Lolita. This can be made clear in a direct way by referring to his descriptions of the literature he dislikes, and indirectly from those descriptions of what literature should be which occupy most of the space of What is Art? He defined that "art of the future" which he a

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