Nabokov`s last novel will be destroyed unread, says son
The last, unpublished novel of Vladimir Nabokov, the author of Lolita, is to be destroyed without scholars or the public having a chance to read it, according to the writer?s son.
Dmitri Nabokov once said that the unfinished book, The Original of Laura, "would have been Father?s most brilliant novel, the most concentrated distillation of his creativity".
But the celebrated Russian йmigrй left instructions that the manuscript be destroyed on his death in 1977. His wife, Vera, could not bring herself to fulfil her husband?s wish and bequeathed the decision to their son when she died in 1991.
Dmitri Nabokov, 71, an opera singer, had considered placing the manuscript in the trust of a university, museum or foundation to allow limited access for scholars. But in an e-mail to Ron Rosenbaum, a literary columnist for the New York Observer, he now says he plans to destroy the book before his death.
"If what he says in his e-mail to me holds true, it?s for the flames," Mr Rosenbaum wrote yesterday.
Little is known about The Original of Laura beyond that, as revealed by the family, it is revolutionary in form and "about a real Laura and a non-real Laura". One of the working titles that Nabokov is said to have used for the book was Dying is Fun.
The Washington Post reported in 1989 that The Original of Laura was to have been a short novel, with between a third and a half already in final form.
Some accounts say the manuscript comprises 30 to 40 pages, possibly made up of the index cards that Nabokov used to write his first drafts.
Possibly the only written reference by the author was in a letter eight months before his death. He wrote: "The Original of Laura, the not quite finished manuscript of a novel which I had begun writing and reworking before my illness and which was completed in my mind: I must have gone through it some 50 times and in my diurnal delirium kept reading it aloud to a small dream audience in a walled garden. My audience consisted of peacocks, pigeons, my long-dead parents, two cypresses, several young nurses crouching around, and a family doctor so old as to be almost invisible."