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Wednesday, April 23, 2008 2:42 pm
Literary Advice from Beyond the Grave
Posted by: Keir Graff

So Dmitri Nabokov will not be burning his father’s manuscript. From Die Welt (“Nabokovs “Laura” wird doch nicht verbrannt,” von Wieland Freund):

Der Fall hielt die Literaturfreunde in Atem. Vladimir Nabokov wollte, dass sein letzter Roman verbrannt wird. Die Witwe brachte es nicht übers Herz, Sohn Dimitri Nabokov (73) hatte die Tat bislang immer mal wieder angekündigt. Jetzt aber hat er angekündigt, der Nachwelt das Nachgelassene zu übergeben.

How did Dmitri resolve his terrible dilemma? With a little help from his father:

From his winter home in Palm Beach, Dmitri justified his decision by saying, “I’m a loyal son and thought long and seriously about it, then my father appeared before me and said, with an ironic grin, ‘You’re stuck in a right old mess – just go ahead and publish!’”

He told the magazine that he had made up his mind to do so.

It was, Der Spiegel states, this “conversation” with his father that “persuaded him against assuming the role of literary arsonist”.

I think this is a terrible act of cowardice. And it’s not really arson if the home’s owner asks you to light the match, is it? But now that the decision has been made, Dmitri had better hope that the manuscript–bear in mind that it consists of 50 index cards–is as good as he claims (“the most concentrated distillation of [my father's] creativity”). After all this hype, people will be expecting Lolita to the power of Pale Fire.

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One Response to “Literary Advice from Beyond the Grave”
  1. Book Blog - Likely Stories, by Keir Graff - Booklist Online » Blog Archive » The Unfinished Story about Nabokov’s Unfinished Novel Says:

    [...] Newsnight has a segment on the unfinished Nabokov novel, which son Dmitri refuses to burn, in complete defiance of his deceased father’s demand. [...]


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