Playboy magazine has won the right to serialize Vladimir Nabokov's last, incomplete novel, The Original of Laura, which the author had stipulated should never be published.

The story of an unhappy man infatuated with his promiscuous wife was to be burned according to instructions the Russian writer left to his heirs when he died in 1977.

However, last year his only remaining heir, son Dmitri, had a change of heart.

In an interview last April with German magazine Der Spiegel, Dmitri Nabokov said a vision helped him decide what to do with the 5,000-word manuscript.

"My father appeared before me and said with an ironic grin: 'You're stuck in a right old mess. Just go ahead and publish,'" said Nabokov.

Amy Grace Loyd, Playboy's literary editor, told The New York Observer that her magazine will publish the first part of Nabakov's story in November.

The novelist — perhaps best known for his 1955 book Lolita — has had a long relationship with Playboy, which published an extract of his novel Ada in 1969.  Nabakov also granted an interview five years earlier.

Loyd made an offer on the book without examining the story — a condition from Nabokov's literary agent Andrew Wylie.

"I knew because of Nabokov's genius, even if the manuscript was even more messy than it actually is, I would probably still be content," Loyd told the Observer.

She also revealed Playboy had never paid so much for a serial, but would not divulge the amount.

"There are parts of it that are much more cohesive than others. But I found it fascinating in that way," Loyd noted.