Penguin has announced the publication of "The Original of Laura," the final book by novelist Vladimir Nabokov, a novel which has been the source of much anxiety and contention for Nabokov's fans and his family.
The Original of Laura which exists on 138 index cards, was complete in Nabokov's mind, though he died before he could translate his vision onto paper. He asked for the manuscript to be destroyed, so his wife Vera, and later his son Dmitri, faced an agonising choice whether to publish the book or not. After three decades in a Swiss vault, "The Original of Laura", an extraordinarily beautiful novel, unprecedented in structure and style, will be published for the first time.
In Dmitri's introduction to his father's last novel, he recalls that it was only chance that saved an earlier book, "Lolita", from the incinerator. He has been guided by the precedent of that other book's survival in choosing to see "The Original of Laura" published.
Dmitri Nabokov, the son of Vladimir said: "When the task passed to me, I did a great deal of thinking. I have said and written more than once that, to me, my parents, in a sense, had never died, but lived on, looking over my shoulder in a kind of virtual limbo, available to offer a thought or counsel in order to assist me with a vital decision, were it a crucial mot juste or some more mundane concern. I decided at this juncture, that, in putative retrospect, Nabokov would not have wanted me to allow a new "Juanita Dark" - for that was an early working title of "Lolita", destined for cremation - to burn like a latter-day Jeanne d'Arc."
Penguin is celebrating all Vladimir Nabokov's writing in three tranches with beautiful new jackets for the entire backlist.
Penguin will publish "The Original of Laura", as well as Nabokov's other titles about childhood and young love in November 2009, with the author's experimental novels and nonfiction, including a collection of unpublished poems to follow in spring 2010. Nabokov's satirical works and a previously unpublished collection of letters to his wife will be published in autumn 2010.