March 9, 2010

On The Original of Laura, by Vladimir Nabokov

I have a whole shelf of Nabokov books in my home. I fell in love with the man's writings after reading the author's introduction to _Pale Fire_. I have thrilled over lines in his books and his short stories, lamented that he isn't studied in the academy as often as he should, and lent out his works.

But this most recent book, which I preordered and waited for with bated breath was not up to the standards of his most mediocre work. The production of the text is interesting to see as an academic curiosity, but I vastly overpaid for that privilege. There's about 30 pages of text here if it were broken down and no story. What happened was the seeds of a story were taken and turned into a middling post-modern novel. I respect what his literary executors were trying to do for fans and scholars, but I feel that Vladamir's wishes were honored on this occasion.

I have to say though that I am generally not against the publication of posthumous fiction. I have thrilled lately at the remnants of Kurt Vonnegut's life works. I have enjoyed _A Happy Death_, a novel found amongst the wreckage of Camus's life. I also puzzled over a collection of uncompleted speeches by Calvino. But what those texts had was completeness. _The Original of Laura_ lacks this completeness. However, as a fan of the man's works, I do still feel fortunate to have this last contact.