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The Original of Laura 'deserved to be saved'

22nd October 2009

The publication of an unfinished Vladimir Nabokov novel raises questions over whether an author's deathbed wishes should be respected, according to one writer.

On November 17th, The Original of Laura will be released, despite the fact that Nabokov asked his wife Vera to destroy the incomplete manuscript - a request she chose to ignore.

The Lolita author's son Dmitri then decided to publish the book 30 years later.

Writing in the Guardian, author and poet Blake Morrison argued that his fellow writers should not always be pandered to when they say they want their works destroyed.

He noted that Franz Kafka's The Castle and The Trial would have been lost forever if a friend had complied with his final wishes.

'Deathbed requests are often ambivalent or half-hearted. When authors care that much, they make sure to do the job themselves,' Morrison wrote.

The decision to publish The Original of Laura did not come easily to Dmitri Nabokov - in 2005 he sent an email to New York Observer literary columnist Ron Rosenbaum pledging to destroy the only copy before he died.

© W&G Foyle Ltd
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