Vladimir Nabokov died before he could finish The Original of Laura, and the long history of the unpublished novel is worthy of its own literary epic. The saga is coming to an end now that Nabokov’s son, Dmitri, announced his intention to publish the work.
But here’s the rub: The Original of Laura is drafted — in fragment form — on 50 index cards, and Dmitri Nabokov has no intention of finishing the novel himself. Nabokov tells the BBC:
I would never presume to finish my father’s works for him because there are so many strands and threads and thoughts there that perhaps might have been developed further. And I simply don’t have the right.
Will another author accept the daunting task of completing a Nabokov title? Or, will the text from the 50 index cards be edited together as a book?
Here’s another idea: publish the fragments on the Web and let Nabokov scholars and fans interpret the material. I know the chances of Nabokov-inspired literary mash-ups are remote, but content with this kind of pedigree would bring significant attention to digital publishing experiments.