The Defense

The Defense

A Novel

Book - 1964
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Vladimir Nabokov's early novel is the dazzling story of the coarse, strange yet oddly endearing chess-playing genius Luzhin. Discovering his prodigious gift in boyhood and rising to the rank of International Grandmaster, Luzhin develops a lyrical passion for chess that renders the real world a phantom. As he confronts the fiery, swift-swooping Italian Grandmaster Turati, he brings into play his carefully devised defence. Making masterly play of metaphor and imagery, The Luzhin Defense is the book that, of his early works, Nabokov felt 'contains and diffuses the greatest warmth'.
Publisher: New York : G.P. Putnam, [1964]
Branch Call Number: PZ3.N121 Dc
Characteristics: 256 p. ; 22 cm

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laphampeak
Jan 21, 2018

An excellent read! The main character and narrator, Luzhin, grew up as a somewhat "damaged" boy. He withdrew from the norms of socialization and human interaction. Chess became his refuge. His life, thoughts, and actions became calculated chess moves where people were telling interpretations of one another. Navokov brilliantly brings the reader in sync with the energy of Luzhin's emotions. For example, " the whole chess field quivered with tension, and over this tension he was sovereign, here gathering in and there releasing electric power." Chess pieces (people) may be poets, actors, even journalists. Small nuances reflect the inner thinking of Luzhin - "Petrov walks with small careful steps trying not to bump into anything"..... Chess, as savior to Luchin's "raison d' etre", eventually leads to his demise all giving the readers an emphatic sigh at the end.

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