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The Original of Laura Hardcover – Bargain Price, November 17, 2009
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When Vladimir Nabokov died in 1977, he left instructions for his heirs to burn the 138 handwritten index cards that made up the rough draft of his final and unfinished novel, The Original of Laura. But Nabokov’s wife, Vera, could not bear to destroy her husband’s last work, and when she died, the fate of the manuscript fell to her son. Dmitri Nabokov, now seventy-five--the Russian novelist’s only surviving heir, and translator of many of his books--has wrestled for three decades with the decision of whether to honor his father’s wish or preserve for posterity the last piece of writing of one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century. His decision finally to allow publication of the fragmented narrative--dark yet playful, preoccupied with mortality--affords us one last experience of Nabokov’s magnificent creativity, the quintessence of his unparalleled body of work.
Photos of the handwritten index cards accompany the text. They are perforated and can be removed and rearranged, as the author likely did when he was writing the novel.
Look Inside The Original of Laura
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|The Original of Laura (Inside Spread)||The Original of Laura (Open)|
From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
It is less because, unlike the case of Kafka's and Virgil's masterpieces, this is truly unfinished --that is, unfinished beyond any possible reconstruction-- and will forever remain so. In Flora's description we can find the following premonitory remarks: "Her exquisite bone structure immediately slipped into a novel -- became in fact the secret structure of that novel." That is exactly what we have: not a novel but its bones.
If you are not already a "Nabokovian," or if you simply want to "read a novel" during your morning trip to work, I suggest that you pick any other text by the master.
At the same time it is something more because it allows us to take a sneaky look at the creative process as Nabokov understood it --or as it was laid upon him by the Muse, Chance, McFate (remember the list in Lolita?) or whomever you choose. As most of his readers know he wrote his books on little index cards, not in the order of the finished story, but rather like a puzzle--today a piece here, tomorrow a piece there.Read more ›
Are we, the morbid readers of a work which the author never finished and, as the legend goes, gave instructions to destroy on his death bed, the ones who really deserve the bruised knuckles? Many who shell out full price for this thick hardcover which contains less than four thousand words will no doubt feel a certain stinging feeling. The decision to publish photographic images of Naboakov's original index cards side-by-side with a typeset version has its charm. But why the need to devote whole pages to their blank backs? I am not complaining, I am just not sure if this is a clue, a joke or a cheap con to get the volume up to fighting weight for the New Hardback racks.
The novel is about a fat, aging professor who copes with death by turning it into a sexual game and who copes with his wife's serial infidelities by writing a humiliating novel about her. As a side project, the professor is deconstucting, "The Interpretation of Dreams." We get plot and character in fragments. Yet the story has tremendous emotional heft. These are disturbed and, at times, ugly people. But we care about them despite ourselves, despite them and despite the fact that the novel is barely a first draft. Less is more, and, with a writer as miraculous as Nabakov, almost nothing is more than less.
The story behind the book's journey to print overshadows the actual story in the book, which itself is a unique literary achievement.Read more ›
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.
The title itself, "The Original of Laura", tells you this will be different. What does that mean, "the original of Laura"? That's a broken sentence. The origins of Laura?
Pull off the book's cover and wordplay begins. Hidden under the cover is a list of words for efface, erase, delete... and the list contains a deleted phrase. Words and reality intertwined. You've not yet begun to read, and already the book is mirroring itself.
Printed on card stock, Vladimir's index cards are photographically reproduced as punch-out cards; you can remove the cards and create your copy of Vladimir's index cards, just as he held them in his hands. This book isn't a book, it's the reproduction of the original (index cards) of Laura.
Dimitri Nabokov has created a puzzle worthy of his father. If you admire Nabokov's work, get this book. (Psst. I also recommend Danielewski's "House of Leaves".)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As Nabokov requested, the flashcards he wrote his initial ideas on for this book should have been destroyed. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Chris Hartgerink
Somewhat disjointed and rough. The theme never came out and seemed to end with no conclusions. It is important that it was published, but only from a curious viewpoint. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Jack Oliphant
great book will allways remind me of reihanna jones the laura in my dreams!!!Published 15 months ago by John Chapman
I had been waiting for the ebook edition for a long long time. By all means it's worth it! Now I can read it easily and preserve the hardcover edition on my book shelf -- that's... Read morePublished on February 18, 2013 by Noah Fang
I rather rated the experience of reading this book than the book itself. Took me one evening, and it was fantastic to be in the guts and throes of another author, and such a great... Read morePublished on October 15, 2012 by Ksenia Anske
I can understand the debate and handwringing that have resulted from the publication of this "novel". I also applaud Mr. Dimitri Nabokov for making this publicly available. Read morePublished on April 22, 2012 by ctakim
Nabokov's last unfinished work is about the unfinishedness of art, about the supremacy of art as aesthetic bliss, "that is a sense of being somehow, somewhere, connected with other... Read morePublished on April 18, 2012 by a re-re-reader
After reading several books by Mr. Nabokov, I was very excited to receive and read this book. As with his other novels, the wording and phrasing of the story is beautiful, though... Read morePublished on December 11, 2010 by Hannah