Pale Fire (Back) on Nabokov’s Posthumous Novel

Saturday’s Wall Street Journal piece headlined “Ghost Writers” detailed “[a] new wave of posthumous books by iconic authors.”

Among them: Vladimir Nabokov’s “The Original of Laura.”

Vladimir Nabokov instructed his family to burn his final novel, “The Original of Laura,” after his death. He had sketched out the novel on 138 index cards, a process he used to write “Lolita” and other works. Nobody, not even Mr. Nabokov’s son and literary executor, Dmitri Nabokov, knows the exact order the author intended for the cards.

But Nabokov’s son Dmitri said that “his father had appeared to him in a vision and told him to ‘go ahead and publish.'”

The Journal also reported:

Dmitri Nabokov’s decision to publish the book unleashed a torrent of criticism from scholars and writers who argued that the author’s wish to suppress his work outweighs the public’s desire to read it. Harvard English professor Leland de la Durantaye and British playwright Tom Stoppard called for it to be destroyed.

Others clamored to have it published, arguing that if Franz Kafka’s literary executor had carried out his order to burn his work, we would not have “The Trial,” “The Castle,” or “Amerika.”

No mention, though, of Nabokov-nik Ron Rosenbaum, who’s been on Dmitri like Brown on Williamson for almost a decade to publish “The Original of Laura.” (See here and here. I chronicled the tug-of-war in a WGBH radio commentary last year.)

But so far Rosenbaum (aka “others” in Journal-speak) hasn’t weighed in on the snub.

Where you at, Ron?

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