Penguin has announced the publication of The Original of Laura, the final book by novelist Vladimir Nabokov, a novel which has been the source of much anxiety and contention for Nabokov's fans and his family.
The Original of Laura, which exists on 138 index cards, was complete in Nabokov's mind, though he died before he could translate his vision onto paper. He asked for the manuscript to be destroyed, so his wife Vera, and later his son Dmitri, faced an agonising choice whether to publish or not. After three decades in a Swiss vault, The Original of Laura, an extraordinarily beautiful novel, unprecedented in structure and style, will be published for the first time.
In Dmitri's introduction to his father's last novel, he recalls that it was only chance that saved an earlier book, Lolita, from the incinerator. He has been guided by the precedent of that other book's survival in choosing to see The Original of Laura published.
Dimitri Nabokov, the son of Vladimir said: 'When the task passed to me, I did a great deal of thinking. I have said and written more than once that, to me, my parents, in a sense, had never died, but lived on, looking over my shoulder in a kind of virtual limbo, available to offer a thought or counsel in order to assist me with a vital decision, were it a crucial mot juste or some more mundane concern. I decided at this juncture, that, in putative retrospect, Nabokov would not have wanted me to allow a new Juanita Dark - for that was an early working title of Lolita, destined for cremation - to burn like a latter-day Jeanne d'Arc.'
Penguin is celebrating all Vladimir Nabokov's writing in three tranches with beautiful new jackets for the entire backlist.
Alexis Kirschbaum, Editor for Penguin Classics said: 'Penguin Classics is thrilled that after over 30 years of deliberation, Dmitri Nabokov has at last agreed to let his father's unfinished final novel, 'The Original of Laura' be published. To make the most of this historic literary moment, Penguin Classics plans to republish Nabokov's entire backlist, as if for the first time, to introduce the public to novels which they may not have heard of before. 'Lolita' is only the beginning; from the humour of 'Pnin', to the satire on tyranny in 'Bend Sinister' to the transcendent novel of first love in 'Mary' there already exists a Nabokov novel to be discovered for the first time.'
Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977) was born in St Petersburg. He wrote his first literary works in Russian, but rose to international prominence as a masterly prose stylist for the novels he composed in English, most famously Lolita. Between 1923 and 1940 he published novels, short stories, plays, poems and translations in the Russian language and established himself as one of the most outstanding Russian émigré writers.
Dmitri Nabokov is Vladimir Nabokov's son.
Penguin will publish The Original of Laura, as well as Nabokov's other titles about childhood and young love in November 2009, with the author's experimental novels and nonfiction, including a collection of unpublished poems to follow in spring 2010. Nabokov's satirical works and a previously unpublished collection of letters to his wife will be published in autumn 2010.
Penguin was established in 1935 and is one of the world's leading consumer publishing businesses. Penguin publishing comprises the following imprints: Allen Lane, Fig Tree, Hamish Hamilton, Michael Joseph, Penguin, Penguin Classics, Puffin and Viking. Penguin has offices in 15 countries and is part of the international media company Pearson.
For further information:
Jenny Fry 020 7010 3466