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Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008 1:04 pm
The Unfinished Story about Nabokov’s Unfinished Novel
Posted by: Keir Graff

BBC Newsnight has a segment on the unfinished Nabokov novel, which son Dmitri refuses to burn, in complete defiance of his deceased father’s demand. Maybe it really is a masterpiece, but personally, I think Dmitri just wants the attention.

(Or possibly he’s tired of living in the great man’s shadow–check out the giant photographs he’s forced to be interviewed beside–and wants to get the last word by publishing something the notoriously perfectionist writer didn’t have time to perfect.)

Nabokovians dying to know whether it’s a proper novel or just a collection of index cards (138 of them, apparently, as opposed to the previously reported 50; is it growing?) won’t find closure yet. Though Dmitri provides correspondent Stephen Smith with a tantalizing glimpse of the manuscript, it’s a bit of a Spinal Tap moment. ”May I leaf through it?” asks Smith. ”I’m sorry,” replies Dmitri Nabokov.

No embed code for the video, but it’s worth watching, in part because of the wonderful shots of intrepid bibliodetective Smith reading Nabokov and gazing at his statue.

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