The Original of Laura by Vladimir Nabokov

So there is this protagonist Flora, who is married to an older man and obviously she is not satisfied in her marriage – emotionally or physically. So its no surprise that she has many lovers, of which one has written a novel, “My Laura”. This is her chronicle – everything about her. Her husband Philip, gets hold of the copy. Philip tends to then think of himself not a part of the story – as though he was out of it, and that’s when he decides to erase himself. That’s the story.

The Original of Laura was written on Nabokov’s death bed, with instructions to be perished. The charm of the book lies in the photographic images of Nabokov’s original index cards side-by-side with the typeset version. The plot and characters are in fragments, yet the story has tremendous emotional heft. What I loved was that we could be a part of the creative process – the way Nabokov indulged in it. You get to be the writer by removing the cards and playing with them in order to arrange the story in your head.

I love Nabokov. Always have and the way he writes. His books are rather complicated, but having said that his lines are brilliant. Some of them from this one, “A cloudless September maddened the crickets”, and “Every now and then she would turn up for a few moments between trains, between planes, between lovers. My morning sleep would be interrupted by heartrending sounds — a window opening, a little bustle downstairs, a trunk coming, a trunk going, distant telephone conversations that seemed to be conducted in conspiratorial whispers. If shivering in my nightshirt I dared to waylay her all she said would be ‘you really ought to lose some weight”. That is brilliant writing, though conversations are fractured in this one.

I only wish there was more of it in this one. More of his writing. Its more like an unfinished puzzle that just keeps you wanting more and you know there will be no more.

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