Apr 30, 2009, 07:50AM

Nabokov's Final (Unfinished) Novel Will Be Published

Nabokov's son has finally announced that he will not destroy The Original of Laura as his father instructed.

From his winter home in Palm Beach, Dmitri justified his decision by saying, "I'm a loyal son and thought long and seriously about it, then my father appeared before me and said, with an ironic grin, 'You're stuck in a right old mess - just go ahead and publish!'"He told the magazine that he had made up his mind to do so.It was, Der Spiegel states, this "conversation" with his father that "persuaded him against assuming the role of literary arsonist".We may assume that he will be widely thanked for his decision, even if the fragments of the novel - a collection of 50 index cards that has been languishing in a Swiss bank vault for three decades - are not of the standard of his other works.But remarks like Dmitri's that The Original of Laura is in fact "the most concentrated distillation of [my father's] creativity" and Nabokov scholar Zoran Kuzmanovich's observation that what he had heard of The Original of Laura was "vintage Nabokov", are tantalising enough to make one want to read it.Publication of The Original of Laura is sure to satisfy much curiosity.Dmitri has taken much stick for the indecisive way he has dealt with the issue, prompting the US literary critic Ron Rosenbaum to appeal to him in the online magazine Slate, "don't continue to tease". He wrote: "Dmitri, with all due respect, I think the time has come to make a decision... Tell us why you think it's the 'distillation of [your] father's art'... Or give us Laura... Or put us out of our misery and tell us that you intend to preserve the mystery forever by destroying Laura."


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