Vladimir Nabokov’s 1955 novel Lolita contains two meandering journey’s across the United States, tours that German editor and translator Dieter E. Zimmer has painstakingly traced on the Lolita, USA section of his site: http://www.d-e-zimmer.de/LolitaUSA/LoUSpre.htm.
Visually the collection of pages devoted to the travels of protagonist Humbert Humbert and Dolores Haze, his Lolita, are not immediately impressive, especially compared to some of the other projects we have shared. The map is a static image of the United States with yellow and red circles indicating the approximate locations of the stops that the two make on their journeys across the United States. In addition to an introductory page, there are two more pages dedicated to each of the journeys, with detailed descriptions of the locations, including quotations from the book, as well as images. These images–some from the late 1940s when the story is set and the 1950s when it is first published and others taken by Zimmer himself–are also collected in galleries on their own pages. Two additional pages–a detailed list of Nabokov’s travels in the West and a chronology of the novel–provide more context.
The collection’s value, however, is in the enormous detail that Zimmer includes about the novel and his process of mapping it. As the German editor for the complete editions of Vladimir Nabokov’s writings, Zimmer worked on tracing the geography of the novel over the course of several editions, increasing the accuracy of his map with each revision.
Both in his introduction and the individual descriptions, he writes at length about the challenges he faced in mapping several locations, which had invented names but were based on real world towns. For those interested in bookmapping, his notes on process are invaluable and become a narrative all their own.
Dieter E. Zimmer has done a great service in creating this travelogue for Lolita and for taking the time to prepare his work in English and share it freely on his site.
What do you think of Zimmer’s approach? Do you know of any other similarly detailed maps for single books? Share your thoughts in the comments below or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.