Private Viewing of Nabokov’s Last Manuscript, a benefit we had the pleasure of hosting and cosponsoring to help the Joseph Brodsky Memorial Fellowship Fund with their mission. To view and download high definition photographs of the benefit PrPh has created the event photo album. Please follow this link:



  1. Fabrizio

    NABOKOV, Vladimir (1899-1977). [The Original of Laura (Dying is Fun)]. [Montreux, 1975-77].

    Autograph manuscript of The Original of Laura written in pencil on the rectos of 138 lined index cards (110×150 mm), three on uniformly sized graph paper (cards 1, 65 and 134), numerous authorial corrections, deletions and emendations throughout, altogether 138 cards, 45 with pencil X’s on verso, mounted in a custom-made album, large 4to, black cloth. Provenance: Dmitri Nabokov (1934-2012), the novelist’s son, translator, opera singer and race car driver.

    The Manuscript of Vladimir Nabokov’s unfinished last novel: The Original of Laura. Falling on a hillside in Davos in 1975 while pursuing his beloved pastime of entomology seemed to set off, in the words of his son Dmitri, Vladimir Nabokov’s final period of illness. Despite this, a new work was burgeoning in the author’s mind, and during the last two years of his life, Nabokov worked steadfastly on its composition: “an embryonic masterpiece whose pockets of genius were beginning to pupate here and there on his ever-present index cards” (D. Nabokov). As his illnesses progressed, the author instructed his wife Véra and his son to destroy the manuscript of The Original of Laura if he were to die without completing it. As with the chance intervention of Véra in the fate of Lolita, snatching a draft of the novel before her husband could burn it in an incinerator, The Original of Laura was likewise preserved: the final work of one the 20th Century’s greatest literary stylists. More than an autobiographical shadow of the author’s last years, the work is the final flowering of Vladimir Nabokov’s mature art, the quintessence of his creative spirit.
    The principal repositories of Nabokov literary manuscripts are the Library of Congress and the Berg Collection of the New York Public Library. According to Prof. Olga Veronina, the Nabokov Museum in St. Petersburg owns three unrelated index cards. ‘Laura’ is almost certainly the last literary manuscript in private hands, the last acquirable.
    Order of cards as bound varies relative to the published version (2009), but ALL of the cards in the published version are PRESENT. The order of the cards with sample text appears on the left. Corresponding card in the published version in ( ), cited by printed page number. Note: the printed numbers only refer to the recto side of the cards, the versos are usually blank, or have an X. Thus, the pagination is always odd: 1-3-5 etc. There is no discussion of the order of the cards in the published version when they are NOT given chapter headings and numbers, as a few series do. By implication, and again, with the exception of the cards with chapter numbers and numbers in the left hand corner, the sequence of the vast majority of cards is unknown. “The photos of the cards that accompany the text are perforated and can be removed and rearranged, as the author likely did when he was writing the novel.” — p. 21. Nabokov’s use of index cards as a support for his writing has always intrigued scholars and readers. Its use can be traced to both historical circumstance as well as a more important, idiosyncratic working method. The use of cards very likely has its origins in the descriptions Nabokov would write as a lepidopterist, and proved a convenient form for an author who travelled by car a great deal, allowing him to jot down thoughts or even sentences whenever inspiration arose. (There are numerous photographs of Nabokov writing in the front passenger seat of a parked car.) The more important motive involves the cardinal Nabokovian theme of chance. The use of cards allowed him to experiment with the sequence of his narrative, perhaps even the sequence of sentences. As such they can be considered not only a material support, but a collaborator in the composition of some of the greatest novels written in the 20th century.

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