The UK Independent reports that The Original of Laura, the short novel that Vladimir Nabokov was writing at the time of his death in 1977, is about “an overweight and physically unattractive academic with a brilliant mind who has a ‘wildly promiscuous’ and unfaithful wife named Flora, whom he married because of her resemblance to a young woman he once loved.” Also: “In the novel, which is both playful and dark, Wild toys with the idea of committing suicide.”
None of which should be news to anyone who read this Vanity Fair item from last April, in which Nabokov’s son Dmitri—whose decision to publish Laura in spite of his father’s instructions to burn it—described the book’s plot in much greater detail than he’s doing now that The Independent has moved him to “finally Error: Break shortcode syntax invalid his silence” about the book’s contents.
Speaking of breaking silences, did we mention that Laura will be published by Knopf? Because it will be. Unclear when, because the person overseeing the project— LuAnn Walther, the editorial director of Knopf’s paperback imprint Vintage—has been declining to comment on it ever since Andrew Wylie, the agent on the Nabokov Estate, agreed to sell Knopf the rights back in July.
As far as we know the ink on the contract might not be all the way dry (it wasn’t as late as September), but the working assumption at Knopf seems to be that Laura is, for all intents and purposes, theirs.