Nabokov's incomplete work in Russia after New York, London

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The Independent Culture

Vladimir Nabokov's hitherto unpublished and unfinished work "The Original of Laura" got a warm welcome on Monday in Russia, the author's land of birth, after a debut in New York and London.

"This is a very important event for this great writer's fans and for all Russians," said Tatyana Ponomaryova, head of the Vladimir Nabokov museum in Saint Petersburg where the writer was born in 1899 before fleeing Russia with his family in 1917.

The publication of the manuscript, which Nabokov wanted to destroy before his death, sparked passionate debate in numerous conferences and articles which are still focusing on one of the 20th century's greatest authors.

Dmitry Nabokov, 75, son of the writer who died in 1977, hesitated for over 30 years before deciding to publish the book.

"What is more fair? To respect the writer's dying wish or to give his readers a chance to know this work? I do not know," confessed Boris Averin, literature professor in Saint Petersburg's State University.

"The book is incomplete, and it is obvious that the writer did not want to show his workshop, but ultimately I am glad that his son made this decision," he told reporters.

"Now, 32 years after his death, every word written by Nabokov is dear to us, so the appearance of this work is a great fortune, it is like finding a treasure," said another Nabokov expert, Sergei Kibalnik.

Russian publishing house Azbuka-Klassika presented two editions of "The Original of Laura", one for the general public and another more luxurious one, complete with an English text and photos of the 138 index cards Nabokov wrote it on.

"The Original of Laura" premiered in London and New York on November 17.

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