Nabokov’s 'Laura' manuscript up for auction

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The Independent Culture

On December 4, readers will be able to bid on Nakobov's original manuscript for The Original of Laura, two weeks following the book's publication in New York and London on November 17.

Up for auction from Christie's in New York is a collection of 138 index cards on which Nabokov wrote, in pencil, the unfinished manuscript of The Original of Laura (also called Dying is Fun). According to the the auction catalogue, manuscripts by Nabokov are rarely available; as such, the estimate is set at $400,000 to $600,000.

The controversy over the publication of The Original of Laura continues with the auctioning of the manuscript. Before Vadimir Nabokov died, he explicitly asked his family to burn the Laura manuscript. More than 30 years after the author's death, Nabokov's son Dmitri chose to have the story published - first in serialized form in Playboy magazine, with which the author had a long professional relationship, and then in book form. While critics say the book's publication refutes Nabokov's dying wish, others defend the decision by citing the case of Lolita, which the author reportedly wanted to burn as well before his wife convinced him otherwise.

Bidding for the manucript can be done online at www.christies.com (look for Lot 95, sale 2227). The published version - listed at $35 or £25 - is available from Knopf/Random House in the US and Penguin in Britain. If bidding on the original isn't a possibility, the print version offers a consolation: included with the book are photos of Nabokov's index cards, perforated so they can be removed and then rearranged as the author might have done.

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