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‘I knew that I had fallen in love with Lolita forever…’

“It was love at first sight, at last sight, at ever and ever sight.” So writes Vladimir Nabokov in Lolita, his classic tale of obsessive, all-consuming, and—let’s just say it—extremely inappropriate and highly illegal love. Pentagram’s Michael Bierut is one of 60 designers invited to create conceptual covers for the book for an upcoming collection, Lolita: Story of a Cover Girl. Edited by John Bertram and Yuri Leving, the book looks at the many graphic representations for Lolita since its publication in 1955, and was inspired by Dieter E. Zimmer’s exhaustive online archive of Lolita covers, as well as a 2009 cover contest held by Bertram’s blog, Venus Febriculosa.

Bierut’s cover cuts the book’s title from a copy of the Mann Act, or White Slave Traffic Act, the 1910 law prohibiting the interstate transportation of women and girls for “immoral purposes.” The law is mentioned in the book when Humbert Humbert takes 13-year-old Lolita on a multi-state road trip. Bierut hand-lettered and cut the cover himself, the jaunty lettering emerging from the darker implications of Nabokov’s story.

Pentagram’s Paula Scher has also contributed a Lolita design for the book, to be revealed in the coming months, and several of the other designer submissions can be seen in a recent feature on Print’s Imprint blog. Lolita: Story of a Cover Girl will be published this August by Print Books.

Project Team: Michael Bierut, partner-in-charge and designer; Aron Fay, designer; Julia Lindpaintner, researcher.