Dmitri Nabokov turns to his dead father for advice on whether to burn the author's last, unpublished manuscript.

Scrutinizing culture.
Feb. 27 2008 7:57 PM

The Fate of Nabokov's Laura, Part II

Dmitri turns to his dead father for advice on whether to burn the manuscript.

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But still I found myself a little surprised by Dmitri's revelation. It certainly could be interpreted as an opportunistic communion, what with his father's spirit so genially granting Dmitri the right to discard his original wish and giving him permission to enrich himself. 

But then I had an argument with my girlfriend over Dmitri's motivations, and she insisted she sensed something else going on. "It's not about the money," she insisted, "There's more to it." 

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And after a couple of days thinking about it, I decided she might well be right. This incident could be just as much—or more—about Dmitri creating for himself (and us) a fond image of a loving father lovingly indulging his son. It might be about him, the way he'd like to see his father as a parent. How faithful this vision is to the original we can never know. But who could begrudge the son this image?  

So it's a ghost story, but it's also a kind of love story. I await the next ALL-CAPITAL-LETTER E-MAIL.