The Original of Laura: A Novel in Fragments

Leland de la Durantaye in the Boston Review:

ScreenHunter_02 Dec. 16 10.09 In 1965 Vladimir Nabokov wrote, “the bitterness of an interrupted life is nothing compared to the bitterness of an interrupted work: the probability of a continuation of the first beyond the grave seems infinite by comparison with the hopeless incompleteness of the second.” More than any great writer of his century, Nabokov was exacting about the presentation of his words and works, from his painstaking translations to his routine destruction, by fire, of preliminary drafts once his novels were complete. When he died in 1977 Nabokov left behind many things. Among these were a loving family, international fame, and a last request: the destruction, by fire, of the notes for his final work in progress. All expectations to the contrary, these have now been published as The Original of Laura: A Novel in Fragments.

Less than a year before his death, Nabokov told The New York Times that he was at work on a new novel and that in idle, albeit feverish, moments in the hospital, he read it aloud to “a small dream audience in a walled garden.” “My audience,” he told the Times, “consisted of peacocks, pigeons, my long-dead parents, two cypresses, several young nurses crouching around, and a family doctor so old as to be almost invisible.” This doctor is finer than anything found in the Novel in Fragments, but that does not mean that there are not fine things therein.

More here.