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Customer Review

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A sparkling study of the reconciliation of genius and love, 21 Sept. 2000
This review is from: The Luzhin Defense (Paperback)
The Luzhin Defense is Nabokov's first masterpiece, written in Russian when he lived as an emigre in Berlin. Luzhin is a brilliant and all absorbed chess player, unable to relate to life outside his passion. Following a brief pre-chess childhood, the memories of which are crisply and beautifully described, he avoids confrontation with the world through a successful chess career. Until, that is, he meets the unnamed woman who will become his wife. Following a nervous breakdown, Luzhin fails to reconcile his wife's loving tenderness and chess. Whilst the first half is consummately written, the second half of the book is less successful. Luzhin is both unworldly and yet strangely sensitive to the world around him. His absorption in his chess does not combine faithfully with his obsession with his own past. Recently married, Nabokov thought he could see the operations of fate working to bring about his happiness with Vera. In the 'Luzhin Defense' he attempts to invert the machinations of benign fate; Luzhin can only see its forces ganging up and working against him. This is a brilliant theme which Nabokov went on to push much further. In this novel, however, he failed to marry his literary creation and metaphysical subtext.
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4.5 out of 5 stars (4 customer reviews)


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Location: Durham, UK

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