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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Nabokovís Finale

Amid the attention given to Dmitri Nabokovís recent publication of his fatherís ďfinal novelĒ The Original of Laura (a stack of notes and fragments the late genius did not live to structure and develop), I decided to turn instead to Nabokovís real final novel, finished and published in 1974: Look at the Harlequins! To my surprise this much-maligned book, often dismissed as a minor exercise in self-parody, planted a big smile on my face with its first words, then pulled me in and continued to delight me, page after page, through to its end. Iím baffled as to how any literary critic, least of all an admirer of Nabokov, could mistake the ingenuity of this brilliant comic novel for mere self-indulgence. While I wouldnít place it at the absolute pinnacle of its authorís mountain of achievements, it is a remarkable pleasure in its own right, like a delicious dessert: a treat Iím glad I didnít miss.

Pictured: Father and son. (Estate of Vladimir Nabokov.)
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