Nabokov’s Laura

For the past week or so, the litblogs have been abuzz with discussion about the final disposition of Vladimir Nabokov’s manuscript The Original of Laura—will VN’s son Dimitri publish or destroy this work, written on fifty notecards? Ron Rosenbaum’s essay Dimitri’s Choice at Slate is the focal point of this discussion, but Rosenbaum has been on the case for a few years now—see his New York Observer article Dear Dmitri Nabokov: Don’t Burn Laura! Let Draft Gather Dust, from November 2005. And, wouldn’t you know it, a Cornell author started all the fuss. In 2005, Rosenbaum wrote,

“I came across an essay by Harvard professor Leland de la Durantaye [author of Style Is Matter: The Moral Art of Vladimir Nabokov] on Lolita in The Village Voice, in which he mentions the existence of The Original of Laura:

‘When Nabokov died in 1977, he left behind an unfinished novel entitled The Original of Laura. His express wish was that it be destroyed upon his death. Before him, Virgil and Kafka had left similar instructions [to destroy their work]; neither was obeyed. Nor was Nabokov. His wife, Véra, found herself unable to carry out her late husband’s wishes, and when she passed away in 1991 she bequeathed the decision to their son. The manuscript’s location is kept secret.'”

Here is de la Durantaye’s Village Voice piece: The Original of Lolita

Nabokov’s Laura