Literary Mixtape: Lolita


If you’ve ever wondered what your favorite literary characters might be listening to while they save the world/contemplate existence/get into trouble, or hallucinated a soundtrack to go along with your favorite novels, well, us too. But wonder no more! Here, we sneak a look at the hypothetical iPods of some of literature’s most interesting characters. What would be on the personal playlists of Holden Caulfield or Elizabeth Bennett, Huck Finn or Harry Potter, Tintin or Humbert Humbert? Something revealing, we bet. Or at least something danceable. Read on for a cozy reading soundtrack, character study, or yet another way to emulate your favorite literary hero. Last week we heard a snippet of Humbert Humbert’s musical tastes, so just to be fair, we thought we’d investigate the other side of the coin. This week: Dolores Haze, better known as Lolita herself.

Dolores Haze, the twelve year old otherwise known as Lolita, is by every standard a complicated creature. Though undoubtably manipulated and controlled by her lascivious stepfather, the girl’s no innocent flower – on more than one occasion, she proves herself to be quite the budding seductress. After all, little (and then not so little) Dolores was able to coerce Humbert into giving whatever she wanted, most of the time. The girl knew what she had to bargain with, at any rate. But at the end of the day, our Lolita was one confused and heartbroken girl – mother dead, stepfather trying to be her boyfriend, her limited world experience mired in secrecy and manipulation. Plus, let’s not lie, going through puberty’s no picnic at the best of times. We figure she’d want to disappear into her headphones as often as possible, dreaming and bemoaning her fate, listening to a mixture of fantasy love songs, angry girl rock, and of course, some angsty preteen standards. Check out our playlist, and let us know what else you think she’d be swooning to.

“My Boyfriend’s Back” – The Angels

We picture Dolores in her room, sock-feet in the air, dreaming of a handsome, (age-appropriate?) man to save her from her fate. “You’re a big man now, but he’ll cut you down to size / Wait and see.”

“Sugar Daddy” – The Hot Toddies

A little musical justification for Lolita’s sexual favors for money and privileges policy?

“Thirsty and Miserable” – The Dirty Projectors

A sad song about desperation and endless need. Hers? His? Theirs.

“This Place is a Prison” – The Postal Service

These people aren’t your friends.

“Rebel Girl” – Bikini Kill

Some more fantasy listening, albeit in a different direction. Plus, like another fictional female we like, Lola’d probably go for a lot of angry girl music of the indie rock persuasion.

“Anthems for a 17 Year Old Girl” – Broken Social Scene

A serious staple track for any fraught adolescent girl. All confused desire and self-loathing.

“Box Elder” – Pavement

To drive Humby from her room (if she’s cool enough — but we believe in her).

“Gold Guns Girls” – Metric

He only wants one thing. “Is it ever gonna be enough?”

“Bad Reputation” – Joan Jett

Maybe for when she was 17, married, pregnant and calling Humbert for money? Or seducing other 12-year-olds at camp? Or considering doing porn? Just saying.

“Shame” – The Avett Brothers

A lot of it.

“You’ll Find A Way” – Santigold

Part challenge, part submission, all electronic angst.

“Pretty (Ugly Before)” – Elliott Smith

Her untainted moments of feeling pretty may be few and far between, but like any girl, she wants to feel like someone wants her.

“Werewolf” – Cocorosie

For a girl who lives with a monster (“Another Western vampire / different time, same place.”). Also: “River sweep away my memories of / Children’s things a young mother’s love / Before the yearning song of flesh on flesh / Young hearts burst open wounds bleed fresh”