(Originally posted September 23, 2018)
Here’s an undated photograph of Florence Sally Horner of Camden, NJ.
As an adolescent, she tried to shoplift a notebook, and a fifty-year-old man caught her at it and misrepresented himself as an FBI agent. Abducting her, he traveled the country with her for just under two years, until she managed to call home, Rescued in 1950, she returned to her home and school, where as I understand it she was covertly judged the vixen of the piece, a predatory and sluttish young woman. She died, unbelievably, in an unrelated auto accident in 1952, and was thereafter forgotten but for a brief mention in Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita: “Had I done to Dolly, perhaps, what Frank Lasalle, a fifty-year-old mechanic, had done to eleven-year-old Sally Horner in 1948?”
All this was brought to my attention courtesy of a new book by Sarah Weinman, The Real Lolita, out now. I read Lolita years ago, because it was salacious and therefore brave. Now I’ve ordered a new copy so that I can see that horrible relationship for what it was, discover the self-serving tricks of its narcissistic narrator, and ultimately reach toward Nabokov himself. And because I owe it to that little girl who found a way to survive and was blamed for it by everyone, including me.