NABOKV-L post 0018795, Tue, 17 Nov 2009 04:09:06 -0500

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RIA Novosti


Nabokov's unfinished novel hits shelves in U.S., Britain

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Nabokov's final unfinished novel to see light of day


NEW YORK, November 17 (RIA Novosti) - Bookstores in New York and London will start on Tuesday the sales of Vladimir Nabokov's final unfinished novel, 'The Original of Laura.'

Nabokov's draft of the English-language novel has lain in a Swiss bank for more than three decades, intriguing the literary community and readers as the Russian-born writer's heirs disobeyed his dying wish for it to be burned.

The original manuscript, which consists of 138 index cards covered in penciled handwriting, will be auctioned at Christie's on December 4 with an estimate of up to $600,000.

The writer's son, Dmitri Nabokov, who translated many of his father's works from Russian into English, earlier said that Laura "would have been a brilliant, original, and potentially totally radical book, in the literary sense very different from the rest of his oeuvre."

Nabokov, the author of the infamous Lolita, made his wife, Vera, promise to burn the manuscript before he died in 1977 in Switzerland, where he spent the last 16 years of his life. She could not bring herself to do so, and left Dimitri to decide after she died.

Dmitri justified his decision last year to publish the incomplete novel in an interview: "I'm a loyal son and thought long and seriously about it, then my father appeared before me and said, with an ironic grin, 'You're stuck in a right old mess - just go ahead and publish!'"

The book has been published in a form that will allow readers to decide for themselves the sequence of events in the book, although it could be difficult to grasp the plot and the nuances of the novel, some American experts in Russian literature have warned.

The Azbuka publishing house, which holds the license to publish the 'The Original of Laura' in Russia, has said the Russian translation of the novel will be published at a later date.

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