Tanizaki’s Naomi, Nabokov’s Lolita, and Naomi’s Lolita: Exoticism of a New Era

Lingjun Jiang


Exoticism is a recurring motif in Japanese novelist Tanizaki Jun’ichiro’s Naomi or Chijin no ai A Fool’s Love (1924), in Russian American writer Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita (1955), as well as in the Lolita subculture fashion today. The concept of Exoticism in this article refers to an act of seeking an ideal and otherized figure that is missing in the perceiver’s reality. However, such an act is expressed in different forms in these three worlds, revealing their socio-historical contexts and gender relations. The Exoticism presented in Naomi and Lolita is manipulated through the male gaze and the protagonists’ fascination with their otherized and objectified female partners. Meanwhile, the self-performative Exoticism in the Lolita fashion today is an act of resistance against the male gaze, demonstrating autonomous female agency with a wish to escape reality and remain in a romanticized, imagined childhood. The topics examined in this article are limited to 20th-century literatures and to contemporary subculture fashion. From a comparative analysis perspective, it is suggested that there is progress in gender and identity awareness today in the field of humanities


Lolita; Vladimir Nabokov; Tanizaki Jun’ichiro; Naomi; A Fool’s Love; Taisho Modernism; Popular Culture; Subculture; Fashion; Girlhood; The Male Gaze; Exoticism; Identity

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