Feature

Should Nabokov

Dmitri Nabokov, son of Vladimir Nabokov, has decided to publish his father

What happenedDmitri Nabokov, son of Vladimir Nabokov, has decided to publish his father’s last work, The Original of Laura, despite his father’s dying wish that the manuscripts be destroyed.

What the commentators saidThis has certainly been a “most tortuous dilemma” for Dmitri Nabokov, said Kate Connolly in a Guardian blog. “If he fails to carry out his father’s last will, Dmitri is effectively betraying him, but carry it out and the world loses forever what is potentially a precious gift from the grave from one of the greatest 20th-century novelists.” But one thing’s for sure: “Publication of The Original of Laura is sure to satisfy much curiosity.”

Dmitri’s decision to publish the book means that he “is a bad son AND Vladimir was a terrible father for putting his boy in this position,” said Gawker. And “if this last book turns out to be awful, Nabokov scholars will dismiss it as something he never wanted printed anyway. We all win. Except Dmitri.”

“I’d rather have more Nabokov than less in the world,” said Gregory Cowles in The New York Times blog Paper Cuts. If Vladimir Nabokov’s last work “doesn’t live up to his gratifyingly perfectionist standards—well, it arrives with bucketloads of context, and if nothing else it will give scholars another decoder ring to evaluate the cryptic Nabokovian oeuvre.”

The whole thing seems kind of fishy, said the blog The Literary Saloon. “We always equate heirs publishing posthumous work with a desperate attempt to cash in—is that what The Original of Laura has been reduced to, too?”

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