Monday, November 30, 2009

18: The Original of Laura

Vladimir Nabokov, The Original of Laura

A fragmentary review:

"Dear Mummy and Hummy," wrote Lolita, once upon another Nabokov book. Flora might have written something of the sort, but her mother's tenant is named "Hubert Hubert".

There is a lovely, nearly-complete scene wherein Flora is sitting on a bench at a train station and is accosted by an old friend, who presses her to read a book called Laura. She says "it is, of course, fictionalized and all that but you'll come face to face with yourself at every other corner. And there's your wonderful death. Let me show your your wonderful death. [...] You'll scream with laughter. It's the craziest death in the world."

You know, it's easier to write a fragmentary review than a coherent one. It's also easy to call a half-written, incoherent manuscript, which probably should have been burnt like Nabokov asked, a "novel in fragments" to excuse its lack of plot and cohesion.

Hubert Hubert sees his dead child Daisy in young Flora and his dead wife in Flora's mother.

Philip Wild sees his dead childhood sweetheart Aurora Lee in his young wife Flora.

Humbert Humbert sees his dead childhood sweetheart Annabel Leigh in prepubescent girls.

Naively: doesn't anyone like anybody in and of themselves? Why so strapped to the past?

In conclusion, there might actually be a novel here; there's a strong theme of being strapped to the past inherent in the characters and even in the fact that Nabokov's previous works are referenced and reminisced over. Philip Wild tries to erase his body parts by some kind of autohypnotism - the act of erasure is somehow in conflict with the bonds of the past. But I don't think one can actually find the story/concept, whatever Nabokov was aiming for, in this book, which includes photographs of Nabokov's original index cards that make up the "manuscript" of The Original of Laura.

There's only enough here for a coffee table book that says "I'm literary, yes I am, and a fan of manuscripts rescued from the fire".

No comments:

Post a Comment