Literary Drama

The on again, off again saga of Vladimir Nabokov’s unfinished final manuscript has taken yet another unexpected turn. An excerpt of 5,000 words will be published in Playboy magazine this fall.

To recap the whole story: Nabokov instructed that his incomplete novella The Original of Laura should not be published. According the the New York Times, it was hardly finished: “Vladimir Nabokov wrote the work on 138 index cards, which have been stored for the past 30 years in a bank vault in Switzerland, where Nabokov died in 1977.” But last spring his son and heir Dmitri started shopping the manuscript around to publishers anyway. Random House sealed the deal, and the resulting book will be available in mid-November. Much debate and furor ensued. (See here and here, for example.)

Meanwhile, magazines were vying for serial rights, and Playboy was in the thick of things. According to the New York Observer, “When Amy Grace Loyd, Playboy’s literary editor since 2005, heard the news, she began an intense courtship process. “I did it with orchids, mostly,” Ms. Loyd said.”

The details of the seduction and ultimate conquest are worth a read. The NYO article is here.–David E