Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Dangers of Illiteracy


LONDON (Reuters) - A chain of retail stores in Britain has withdrawn the sale of beds named Lolita and designed for six-year-old girls after furious parents pointed out that the name was synonymous with sexually active pre-teens.

Woolworths said staff who administer the web site selling the beds were not aware of the connection.

In "Lolita," a 1955 novel by Vladimir Nabokov, the narrator becomes sexually involved with his 12-year-old stepdaughter -- but Woolworths staff had not heard of the classic novel or two subsequent films based on it.

Hence they saw nothing wrong with advertising the Lolita Midsleeper Combi, a whitewashed wooden bed with pull-out desk and cupboard intended for girls aged about six until a concerned mother raised the alarm on a parenting website.

"What seems to have happened is the staff who run the website had never heard of Lolita, and to be honest no one else here had either," a spokesman told British newspapers.

"We had to look it up on (online encyclopedia) Wikipedia. But we certainly know who she is now."


Celine said...

Caveat: this is cultural ignorance, not illiteracy. They could read perfectly well, but they were unfamiliar with the well-known cultural connotations of the name "Lolita".

Personally, I don't see how anyone could be that clueless even if they hadn't read the novel! It's not as if you don't see toss-off references to sexy young girls as "Lolitas" on a fairly regular basis; the meme is out there quite apart from the novel itself.

Cornelia Read said...

What next, Deep-Throat Barbie and K-Y Ken?