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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: November 23, 2009 @ 6:56 pm

    Posthumous publishing

    Fiona McCann

    Course, we all think we deserve another Nabakov. And he’s been dead for over thirty years now, so should what he thinks – or thought – even matter at this point? These are the questions which arose around the publication of Vladimir Nabakov’s The Original of Laura, a book  the Russian-born author stipulated should be destroyed after his death. Instead, it was consigned to a vault by his wife Vera, only to be removed therefrom by the couple’s son Dimitri, who finally, towards the end of his own life, went against his father’s dying wishes and published it. John Banville argues that if Nabakov had really wanted it destroyed, he would have ensured its destruction and that, regardless, an author on his deathbed is not the best judge of what should be done with his work. Tom Stoppard disagrees, making the point that we owe it to the author to respect his dying wishes. Now that it’s out there, reviewers are divided about the result, a book of the work in progress comprised of images of the series of index cards on which he had made the notes for the book he never finished. But is it fair to judge him on something he himself believed should never see the light of day? Does any of this matter given that the man himself has long shuffled off this mortal coil? And if you feel the author has been badly treated, would it stop you from buying the book? Your thoughts, please.

    • kid Sumner says:

      I think one of Hemingways relatives has published A movable feast and taken out all the negative references to Ernest Hemingways former wife as they were seen to be dishonest! Wonderfull !Lets Go with that,!

    • Stan Carey says:

      We’ve been here before, more or less. For example, Max Brod famously ignored his friend Kafka’s dying request to destroy the writer’s manuscripts, letters, diaries and so on. And the world is very grateful. Nabokov was an exceptionally fine writer, and I’ll probably read Laura eventually, but even if it’s not comparable to his other work, I won’t judge him for it.


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