Page last updated at 17:00 GMT, Friday, 17 April 2009 18:00 UK

New Nabokov gets November release

Dimitri and Vladimir Nabokov
Dimitri Nabokov agonised for years over publishing his father's last work

Vladimir Nabokov's final novel is to be published by Penguin later this year.

Nabokov wrote The Original of Laura on 138 index cards, each of which will be reproduced with a transcript of their text on the facing page.

The Russian author left instructions that the unfinished work be destroyed after his death. He died in 1977, but his son took the decision to publish last year.

Penguin paid a six figure sum for the new work and continued back catalogue

rights and will publish on 3 November.

The book will be published simultaneously in the UK and the United States.

Alexis Kirschbaum, editor at Penguin Classics, dealt personally with Nabokov's son Dimitri over the deal: "It was quite emotional for Dimitri because it was a big decision to publish, which took him decades."

The work has been stored in a Swiss bank vault for 30 years.

'Kernels of genius'

Vladimir Nabokov had at one point also intended to burn Lolita, the work which made his name, and was only stopped from doing so by his wife.

The Original of Laura is narrated by a man infatuated with his promiscuous wife, thinking back to the start of his obsession when they were youths.

Kirschbaum says the new work is both dark and comic, exploring "what it means to hate yourself and want to disappear."

"It's incredibly interesting to see his handwriting and read his prose - not necessarily extremely polished, but you can still see kernels of genius in everything he wrote," she added.

The publisher also announced that in 2010 they would print a collection of Nabokov's poems which have not been seen before in the English language.

A year later they plan to release a completely unseen exchange of letters between Nabokov and his wife.

The Original of Laura will be published as a hardback costing £25.

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