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Title page for ETD etd-07032014-144805

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Straub, Stephanie Marie
Author's Email Address s.m.straub@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-07032014-144805
Title A Portrait of the Artist as a Dying Man: Vladimir Nabokov and the Scandal of Posthumous Publication
Degree Master of Arts
Department English
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Jennifer Fay Committee Chair
Mark Wollaeger Committee Member
  • Posthumous Publication
  • The Original of Laura
  • Vladimir Nabokov
  • Editing
Date of Defense 2014-07-18
Availability unrestricted
In 2009, the text that would have been Vladimir Nabokov’s final novel, The Original of Laura, was published against the late author’s explicit instructions. Although the controversy surrounding Laura’s publication ostensibly stemmed from this violation of Nabokov’s wishes, objections to the novel’s publication (as voiced in a host of negative reviews) chiefly hinged on the text’s supposed aesthetic shortcomings. In this paper, I offer a reading of both the text itself and the publication controversy in terms of the implied image of the author. Crucially, Laura was not published as a simple transcription of Nabokov’s existing draft, but as a mass-produced manuscript, a series of facsimiles of the original draft, as written in the author’s own hand. I read the manuscript, first, as photographically reproduced traces of the dead, then as an implied portrait of the author. I argue that Laura actively uses the reader’s desire for the late author to construct an image of the dead, but that this portrait also always problematically effaces the existing image of the author.
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