Literary Last Wishes

There’s an interesting discussion about what to do with Vladimir Nabokov’s unpublished novel over at The Guardian. How do you respect someone’s last wishes while also respecting literary history and scholarship?

“If your father said he wanted his diaries to be destroyed after his death, chances are you’d carry out his wishes and have a bonfire in the garden. Just because your dad happens to be the greatest writer of the 20th Century shouldn’t really make any difference,” Kathryn Hughes writes. “However, there’s something about the way in which Vladimir Nabokov and his son Dimitri have conducted themselves over this business that makes me think that none of these normal considerations apply. Nabokov père was the most extraordinary trickster, playing games not just with language but with readerly expectation and desire. How typical of him then to leave behind this little mystery, designed to get the whole of the literary establishment in a tizz.”

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