Today’s read: The Original of Laura


~ Vladimir Nabokov, Dmitri Nabokov (Preface)

Before Nabokov’s death in 1977, he instructed his wife to burn the unfinished first draft—handwritten on 138 index cards—of what would be his final novel. She did not, and now Nabokov’s son, Dmitri, is releasing them to the world, though after reading the book, readers will wonder if the Lolita author is laughing or turning over in his grave.This very unfinished work reads largely like an outline, full of seeming notes-to-self, references to source material, sentence fragments, commentary and brief flashes of spectacular prose. Depending on the reader’s eye, the final card is either haunting or the great writer’s final sly wink: it’s a list of synonyms for efface—expunge, erase, delete, rub out, wipe out and, finally, obliterate.

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