First a cache of Dashiell Hammett stories is uncovered among the late author’s papers in Texas. Then a novel by the late Chilean writer Roberto BolaÃ±o gets serialized in the pages of the Paris Review. Now news breaks that a novel by Patrick White, considered by many to be Australia’s finest writer, will be published in 2012, the centenary of the author’s birth. Called The Hanging Garden, the novel was among a trove of papers that literary executor Barbara Mobbs was instructed to burn after the author’s death. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Mobbs vacillated for more than a decade before deciding that the book deserves to see the light of day.
Last year, Sydney University academics Margaret Harris and Elizabeth Webby had the handwritten manuscript transcribed with funding from an Australian Research Council grant.
Ms Mobbs had the typescript in January. She read, consulted, and read again.
The decision was made about 10 days ago.
Just who will publish The Hanging Garden is now up in the air after Random House jumped the gun by announcing its appearance.
In deciding not to destroy White’s work despite the author’s stated demands, Mobbs joins the likes of Max Brod, who allowed Franz Kafka’s work to appear following the author’s death, and Dimitri Nabokov, who decided to overrule his father Vladimir’s wishes and give permission for the author’s final, unfinished book, The Original of Laura, to be published last year.