Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Nabokov x2

I should have blogged about this earlier. Of course I am ecstatic that Dmitri Nabokov is finally going to publish his father's novel, The Original of Laura. This manuscript was left unfinished and old Vladimir told his family to burn it. Dmitri's mother never had the nerve to carry this out and after she died the tough decision fell on Dmitri as his father's literary executor.

However, in this recent interview with the New York Times, he pooh-poohs the drama that surrounded the so-called burden of his decision. Turns out he never planned to burn Laura. Her voice will be heard!

I was reminded that Dmitri himself translated his father's books when I read this interview, as he certainly has his father's wit. Here is a taste of Dmitri's own delight in puns (it runs in the family!):

Q: Your mother didn’t have the heart to burn it either. There’s a famous story about how she stopped your father from burning his manuscript of “Lolita.”

A: It was an entirely different situation. What my father was carrying to the incinerator was a draft of the completed work, which the publishers feared and, he strongly suspected, the public was bound to misconstrue. At that stage, the working title was “Juanita Dark.” Had she been incinerated, even if not at the stake, she would have become a latter-day Juanita d’Arc.

The Original of Laura is "said to involve a corpulent scholar married to a wildly promiscuous woman named Flora". Knowing Nabokov, you can bet the name Flora is a sort of mondegreen* for the novel's title.

*a mondegreen is a word/phrase that is misheard

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