Art and Entertainment


Nabokov’s Son to Sell Author’s Last Work

March 09, 2008 07:00 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
After 30 years' reflection, Dmitri Nabokov decides that his dead father wouldn't object to the sale of his unfinished, final novel, “The Original Of Laura."

30-Second Summary

After debating whether or not to burn his father's manuscript, Dmitri Nabokov has had a revelation.

Vladimir Nabokov’s last novel, “The Original of Laura,” has allegedly plagued his son for the past 30 years, as his perfectionist father had asked him to destroy the unfinished book after his death.

The novel has been sitting in a Swiss bank vault all this time.

But Slate’s Ron Rosenbaum, who has been following the story, wrote this week that Dmitri had a change of heart during an imagined conversation with his father's ghost.

Vladimir Nabokov, with a “wry and fond smile,” told his son, “say or do what you like but why not make some money on the damn thing?”

Thus, Dmitri decided that selling the novel is not a betrayal of his father’s wishes after all. 

Whether the critics and Nabokov's readership will be as sanguine is another matter.

Kathryn Hughes writes on The Guardian blog that “the writer in me is horrified at the thought of someone publishing something that isn't ready to be seen.”

But in Nabokov’s case, she wonders if the “trickiest literary jester who ever lived” really meant it. And, if he did, why didn’t he make sure the book was destroyed before he died?

Natalie Haynes contends in the Times of London that even if Nabokov’s dying wish isn’t realized, it will not make or break an already stellar reputation.

“After all, what difference could it possibly make to Nabokov's reputation if his final work is fragmentary or not especially great? He's Nabokov,” she writes.

Headline Link: 'The Fate of Nabokov's Laura, Part II'

Opinion & Analysis: Vladimir Nabokov wouldn't mind

Related Topics: Other posthumously published fathers

Background: When he was undecided


Most Recent Beyond The Headlines