Dmitri Nabokov 1, Dying Wish 0

Vladimir Nabokov made his wife promise to burn his unfinished last novel, The Original of Laura, upon his death. But the manuscript, written on 138 index cards, remained in a Swiss safe-deposit box for over three decades. His son and sole heir, Dmitri, 75, has finally decided to let the world have a look. Knopf will publish The Original of Laura on November 17.

Dmitri and Vladimir
Dmitri and Vladimir

Other writers’ deathbed requests & their upshots…

Virgil:  Burn the Aeneid. (Emperor Augustus refused.)
Charles Dickens:  Remember me by my work alone; no statues or monuments. (Not the humblest cove in Britain.)
Emily Dickinson:  Burn all my papers. (Her sister, Vinnie, destroyed her letters but not her poems.)
Franz Kafka:  Burn all my unpublished works. (His friend Max Brod did not comply.)
Hunter S. Thompson:  Fire my ashes from a giant cannon. (Johnny Depp lit the match.)

3 thoughts on “Dmitri Nabokov 1, Dying Wish 0

  1. I don’t know how I feel about this. On the one hand, it seems like we should honor the wishes of the deceased; on the other hand, it seems a shame to destroy potentially important unpublished manuscripts. [semicolon used just for Sean Lovelace]

    I heard a thing on NPR the other day about Michael Jackson’s enormous catalog of unreleased music. The fella on there was saying how most of it was deemed unsuitable for release by Jackson because it did not meet his standard of excellence. (I guess MJ was an uber perfectionist.) I think this speaks to the Nabokov story, too. I mean, as much as I want to read the last thing ole Vlady wrote, I can also understand not wanting material made available that had not undergone the scrutiny of the red pen.

    It’s an interesting dilemma.

  2. Not sure where my comment to this thread vanished to. Anyway.

    I’m in for anything Nabokov. I’m okay with the necrophiliac resonance of it.

    As for burning stuff up, I’ve threatened to throw everything I own onto a bonfire and, after enjoying the smoke in my eyes, throw myself into the grand conflagration. I’ve also left my wife with lengthy instructions regarding my death and taxes. She’s never amused by such talk.

  3. it’s kind of f-ed up not to honor someone’s dying wishes. i know it pissed me off when my grandma ignored my grandpas… but what really got me with this is that the book is $35 for a 304 page hardback. really?

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