About Time

Nabokov’s Last Work to be Published

Vladimir Nabokov’s last novel, The Original of Laura, which the author wished burned on his death, is to be published by his son, Dmitri. “He would have reacted in a sober and less dramatic way if he didn’t see death staring him in the face,” says Dmitri. “He certainly would not have wanted it destroyed. He would have finished it…My father told me what his most important books were. He named Laura as one of them. One doesn’t name a book one intends to destroy.” The plot concerns Philip Wild, a brilliant neurologist, but a fat and unappealing man, who is oppressed to the point of suicide by his much younger wife, the “wildly promiscuous” Flora. The thought of reading a lost Nabokov novel does not appeal to everyone, including the playwright Tom Stoppard. “It’s perfectly straightforward. Nabokov wanted it burnt, so burn it,” he said.