Monday, February 1, 2010

A Fragmented Novel

I was in Green Apple Bookstore today falling in love with every book wishing the store had their own credit card so I could spend all the money on books I wanted, when I saw this beautifully designed hardback. I don't want to say it was "written" by Vladimir Nabokov because there's controversy over why this was published when it was never supposed to. Ooo, sounds like literature gossip, doesn't it? It is.

Apparently, Nabokov had never wanted to publish this novel if he had not finished it. When he passed away in 1977, "The Original of Laura" sat unfinished, and it was through direct orders from the writer himself that his wife was to destroy the fragmented novel if it were never completed. Like any other wife with a brilliant writer for a husband would have done, she kept the pieces of unfinished work. She had never published it, but she also hadn't destroyed it.

In 1991 she passed away leaving the fragmented novel to stay with the remaining family, their son, Dmitri. Once the responsibility was left in his hands he considered keeping to his fathers' wishes as well. Until now.

The cover of the book prints "A Novel in Fragments", because it literally is. Nabokov had written his only draft on index cards. And because this was the way the pieces of novel survived, his son decided to publish the unfinished novel with the cards themselves.

When you open the book you see replicated index cards printed on each page with the type printed directly beneath it. You can choose to read the book though the scribbles of Nabokov's handwriting or through the paragraphs printed below the cards. And, if you're really in the mood to become one with Nabokov and attempt to see his writing the way he did, you can punch out each index card (yes, they perforated every card in the book), and arrange them how you'd imagine the story of "The Original of Laura" being told.

Unfortunately, I did not buy the book. I'll just have to return during the week to admire it and read snippets. If any of you read it let me know how it is. I've read articles saying it's not quite the read considering half of the novel is placed in an order that most believe was not the original way Nabokov had intended.

Photo creds: A Look Inside!,

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