This year marks the 50th anniversary of the U.S. publication of Vladdy Nabokov's Lolita (after being held up for three years). To celebrate, your New School is holding a Lolita in America conference, this Saturday, including a panel discussion about Nabokov's soon-to-be-published posthumous novel The Original of Laura. Which, as you may recall, Nabokov wished to have burned after his death, and which his son Dimitri, after much attention-getting hand-wringing, decided to publish anyway.
On that Laura panel is the I guess you'd say cultural critic Ron Rosenbaum, who this week, anticipating the panel in one of his intermittent, interminable Slate columns, buries his lede and says on page three — in his typically windy, fussy, totally fucking useless manner — that, despite his earlier and public indecisiveness (and subsequent credit-grabbing) on the subject, he now wishes Dmitri had burned the thing after all.
But. Guys. Explain to me please why we are even having a conversation about honoring the deathbed wishes of the guy who wrote, as the opening sentence of his autobiography:
The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness.Jesus H. Christ in a glass case on Wyckoff Avenue, where Nabokov thought he was going there's no real way of caring whether or not people do or don't burn the damn manuscript.