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Fine Books and Works on Paper: Day One

Wednesday 13th July 2016: 2:00pm BST

Nabokov

Full Lot Details

Nabokov (Vladimir) Autograph Manuscript of The Original of Laura, written in pencil on recto of 135 index cards, each 105 x 147mm., and 3 uniformly sized pieces of graph paper, each 146 x 105mm., 45 cards with pencil 'X' on verso, numerous authorial corrections, deletions and emendations throughout, window-mounted in custom album with upper cover replicating design of the published book, preserved in custom drop-back box, also replicating same design on spine, [Montreux, c.Dec. 1974- June 1977]; and a first English edition of the published work, 4to & 8vo (2)

Vladimir Nabokov's final, unfinished novel: 'The Original of Laura'

The first reference to the work that would become The Original of Laura appears in Nabokov's diaries on 1st December, 1974, referred to there as Dying is Fun (this would eventually be used for the subheading of the published work). In January 1976 it was reported that Nabokov had "completed his next novel in his head" and had begun the process of writing out the novel in full.

Nabokov had long used index cards as his preferred method of composing a novel; this allowed him the freedom to move around sections of the novel at will as well as start at a point of his choosing. These cards were then typed up into the complete novel. By 1976 however Nabokov's health was failing rapidly and, despite concerted efforts on the author's part, it became apparent to him that he was unlikely to complete his final work before his death. He therefore left instruction with his wife Vera to destroy the manuscript upon his death, a decision that led to decades of introspection for both her and their only son Dimitri. In 2009 however Dimitri took the decision to share his father's final work with the world at large, reproducing the index cards in a book published by Knopf and offering the manuscript at auction.

While The Original of Laura is clearly incomplete, it nevertheless provides evidence that Nabokov's genius wit remained largely undimmed even towards the end of his life, and its interest in exploring death or obliteration intriguingly foreshadowed the internal debate that took place for Dimitri and Vera Nabokov whilst they were deciding on the fate of the manuscript. Nabokov donated many of his papers and manuscripts to the Library of Congress and the majority of the remaining archive was acquired by a number of American institutions. To date, we can trace no other significant manuscript by the author appearing at auction. The Original of Laura therefore represents an extremely rare opportunity to acquire an important work by Vladimir Nabokov.

Full Lot Details

Nabokov (Vladimir) Autograph Manuscript of The Original of Laura, written in pencil on recto of 135 index cards, each 105 x 147mm., and 3 uniformly sized pieces of graph paper, each 146 x 105mm., 45 cards with pencil 'X' on verso, numerous authorial corrections, deletions and emendations throughout, window-mounted in custom album with upper cover replicating design of the published book, preserved in custom drop-back box, also replicating same design on spine, [Montreux, c.Dec. 1974- June 1977]; and a first English edition of the published work, 4to & 8vo (2)

Vladimir Nabokov's final, unfinished novel: 'The Original of Laura'

The first reference to the work that would become The Original of Laura appears in Nabokov's diaries on 1st December, 1974, referred to there as Dying is Fun (this would eventually be used for the subheading of the published work). In January 1976 it was reported that Nabokov had "completed his next novel in his head" and had begun the process of writing out the novel in full.

Nabokov had long used index cards as his preferred method of composing a novel; this allowed him the freedom to move around sections of the novel at will as well as start at a point of his choosing. These cards were then typed up into the complete novel. By 1976 however Nabokov's health was failing rapidly and, despite concerted efforts on the author's part, it became apparent to him that he was unlikely to complete his final work before his death. He therefore left instruction with his wife Vera to destroy the manuscript upon his death, a decision that led to decades of introspection for both her and their only son Dimitri. In 2009 however Dimitri took the decision to share his father's final work with the world at large, reproducing the index cards in a book published by Knopf and offering the manuscript at auction.

While The Original of Laura is clearly incomplete, it nevertheless provides evidence that Nabokov's genius wit remained largely undimmed even towards the end of his life, and its interest in exploring death or obliteration intriguingly foreshadowed the internal debate that took place for Dimitri and Vera Nabokov whilst they were deciding on the fate of the manuscript. Nabokov donated many of his papers and manuscripts to the Library of Congress and the majority of the remaining archive was acquired by a number of American institutions. To date, we can trace no other significant manuscript by the author appearing at auction. The Original of Laura therefore represents an extremely rare opportunity to acquire an important work by Vladimir Nabokov.