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Nabokov’s The Original of Laura

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Dmitri Nabokov has announced that he will permit the publication of his father’s last work, entitled, The Original of Laura

The public has waited a long time for this work. I wrote a letter to Dmitri several years ago urging publication. I hope that in this case anticipation won’t be greater than realization. As I was preparing this post, I thought of other long-awaited works that failed to meet expectations. Guns n Roses’ new album, Chinese Democracy, was given that title when the events at Tiannamen Square were fresh instead of being nearly twenty years in the past. Now only Axl Rose is left from the line-up that produced “Sweet Child of Mine.” James Thackara worked for years on his book about World War II, The Book of Kings, only to find the text quickly remaindered after publication. One highly-touted work was Harold Brodkey’s A Party of Animals. After publishing First Love and Other Sorrows in 1958, Brodkey set to work on this supposedly Proustian-length opus. Gordon Lish and other great editors praised the text, which was announced in Forthcoming Books from time to time. The basis for this praise, however, is unclear, since apparently the book was never written. Somewhere in between is Truman Capote’s Answered Prayers. Chapters of the book were published during Capote’s lifetime, notably “La Cote Basque” in Esquire magazine. No one really knows why Capote never finished the book. Alcohol and drugs may have been involved.

So here’s wishing that The Original of Laura is just as good as Vladimir Nabokov believed it to be, and thanks to Dmitri Nabokov for letting the book see the light.


Update: A reader has pointed out that the cover image was a hoax and was not proposed by Nabokov’s publishers. The image and the two sentences referring to it have been deleted.

Written by mokane

November 12, 2008 at 12:45 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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