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The Defense

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,702 Ratings  ·  271 Reviews
Nabokov's third novel, The Defense, is a chilling story of obsession and madness. As a young boy, Luzhin was unattractive,distracted, withdrawn, sullen--an enigma to his parents and an object of ridicule to his classmates. He takes up chess as a refuge from the anxiety of his everyday life.His talent is prodigious and he rises to the rank of grandmaster--but at a cost:in L ...more
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 1930)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Nickolas the Kid
Δεν ξέρω από που να αρχίσω με το συγκεκριμένο βιβλίο!! Από την εξαίσια γραφή και γλώσσα του Ναμπόκοφ, από τις πολυεπίπεδες αναλύσεις ή από τους ιδιαίτερους χαρακτήρες που πλαισιώνουν τον νεαρό Λούζιν;;; Μάλλον όλα τα παραπάνω συνθέτουν ένα αριστούργημα της παγκόσμιας λογοτεχνίας το οποίο φίλοι και μη του σκακιού πρέπει να το διαβάσουν....

Ο Λούζιν είναι είναι ένα παιδί με κάποιο σύνδρομό ή κάποια ψυχολογική διαταραχή, του οποίου όλη η ζωή περιστρέφεται γύρω από το σκάκι. Δεν μπορεί να ενταχθεί στ
Nov 20, 2008 Manny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

If you are a chessplayer, like me, you simply have to read this book. No one else has even come close to describing chess obsession from the inside. The style is, needless to say, impeccable.
May 16, 2012 Kristen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, fiction, nabokov
Ah Nabokov, your words are like the warm familiar embrace of an ex-lover who knows just what I like . . . except without all the self-disgust the next day.
Dec 24, 2015 Darwin8u rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
"Let's start if you're willing."
-- Vladimir Nabokov, The Luzhin Defense


G.K. Chesterton once famously quipped in his book Orthodoxy that "Imagination does not breed insanity. Exactly what does breed insanity is reason. Poets do not go mad; but chess-players do. Mathematicians go mad, and cashiers; but creative artists very seldom."

Vladimir Nabokov’s th!rd novel about a lonely chess grandmaster reminds me of Franz Kafka and a little bit of Melville's Bartleby, the Scrivener. While this isn't my
We find in The Luzhin Defense many of Nabokov's playful tropes: madness (monomania, solipsism), resistance to meaning (particular jabs at the "Viennese delegation"), genius outcast from society. It is apparent that his is an early work of the master, though a masterful work still. Luzhin is a remote but somehow lovable obsessive. Our affection for him has true potential, perhaps a potential unusual for the typical Nabokovian protagonist. But that affection is abated by our narrative distance fro ...more
MJ Nicholls
Hands-up: I read some of this at bullet-train speed because I had to return it to the library. Yes, I could have withdrawn it again, but there were only fifty-odd pages left and some new Foster Wallace was in that set my hands a-twitchin’ and my brain a-spinnin’.

So I didn’t let the sumptuous prose slowly unfold, I didn’t delicately caress his sentences with the same narcissistic mania the author bestowed upon his own works. But there wasn’t much sumptuousness here, anyway. His third novel is a m
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
A young boy, a loner, indifferent to everything, discovers chess. Ensnared by this insanely addictive game, he becomes even more indifferent to everything--except chess. He grows up, becomes a champion, many of his games considered "immortals." In a championship game against the equally-brilliant Italian Grandmaster Turati, upon adjourning a very difficult position, he suffers a breakdown. He survives, but the doctors opine that further chess might be fatal to him. Enough of the plot.

I have bee
Sep 03, 2015 Kaya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not as impressive as Lolita, but still a solid read. Mostly, I was bored and confused with the direction of the plot. Well, almost non-existent plot. Luzhin is supposed to be compelling and intriguing, but he's non of the above. Also, the ending isn't even nearly satisfying.

This is a story about an obsessed chess player who doesn't distinguish reality from imagination. Basically, the plot deals with the story of a genius, whose perception of life entwines with chess strategy. There were some inc
Mar 22, 2016 Bookfreak rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Το ασυνείδητο είναι δομημένο ως σκακιστική παρτίδα.
Foteini Daila
Jul 01, 2016 Foteini Daila rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ο Λούζιν είναι ένας άνθρωπος με πάθος.Και το μεγάλο πάθος του είναι το σκάκι. Ένα τόσο μαγευτικό και δύσκολο παιχνίδι που αποτελεί έναν κόσμο μόνο του. Μόνο στο άκουσμα της λέξης "σκάκι", ο Λούζιν σκέφτεται κινήσεις και συνδυασμούς για να αποκρυπτογραφήσει τον αντίπαλό του, είτε αυτός είναι πραγματικός είτε δημιούργημα της φαντασίας του. Κλείνεται στον δικό του κόσμο με πιόνια και -όντας πανέξυπνος-αδυνατεί να επικοινωνήσει με την γυναίκα και το περιβάλλον γύρω του. Είναι έρμαιο του πάθους του.
Over the last few weeks I’ve read The Luzhin Defense, followed by Bluebeard and then Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Originally I was going to write some stuff here about the central characters and compare them with the original Outsider. I was going to say things like this:

Maybe it is a contradiction in terms, to put 3 books about outsiders in the same review, but I can’t stop myself.

We have here a chess player, a doctor who might or might not have murdered a wife and a chickenhead. They a
Apr 02, 2016 Roya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
رضایی عالی
ناباکف بی نقص
تنها از شطرنج نابلدی خود سخت خشمگینم
Ο νεαρός Λούζιν στρέφεται στο σκάκι μόνο και μόνο για να αποφύγει να κοιτάξει κατάματα τη Μέδουσα της πραγματικότητας. Στα 64 τετράγωνα διοχετεύει όλη του την ενέργεια. Το ταλέντο που κουβαλάει τον οδηγεί στην κορυφή. Όμως η κορυφή δεν ταιριάζει σε άτομα εκκεντρικά, θλιμμένα, εσωστρεφή και υπερευαίσθητα σαν το Λούζιν.

«Ο πόνος πέρασε αμέσως, αλλά σ’ εκείνο το φλογισμένο κενό χρόνου ο Λούζιν είχε δει κάτι αφόρητα επιβλητικό, είχε δει τον απόλυτο τρόμο των αβυσσαλέων βυθών του σκακιού. Κοίταξε τη σ
Apr 14, 2012 Capsguy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russian
Nearly five stars, nearly...

Those who know any obsessively compulsive persons will really appreciate the effort Nabokov went into for this. When you become so engrossed in your fixation that you begin to question what is reality. Of course I would never use this as a guide to dealing with loved ones who have OCD or whatever, but it was insightful into another aspect of the mind of the human. I have addictive tendencies, so perhaps I am lucky I never got into any activities like chess seriously.
Η ιστορία του Λουζιν ξεκινάει από μικρή ηλικία που δείχνει οτι δε του πάει και πολύ η ζωή, είναι μελαγχολικός, δεν έχει ενδιαφέροντα και φίλους, απλά τριγυρνάει και αναπνέει. (ταύτιση)
Αυτό μέχρι να έρθει σε επαφή με το σκάκι, οπου ξεκινάει μια ιστορία αγάπης μεγαλύτερη απ'της Ρούλας και του Φραν και καταλήγει σε εμμονή. Ο τύπος ο,τι δεν έχει να κάνει με το σκάκι απλά αδιαφορεί. Θεός, θα μου πείτε, και συμφωνώ ναι μεν, αλλά. Το βιβλίο δεν έχει κάποια ιδιαίτερη πλοκή, αλλά ο χαρακτήρας του Λουζιν
Dec 06, 2009 Marcus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, russian
After reading Lolita, I knew that I'd need another book to feed my new addiction to Nabokov. Something I could read over and over. Something with his deliciously clever writing, minus the pedophilia. I had high hopes for The Defense and I enjoyed the book, but didn't quite find what I was looking for. I'm not sure if some of his writing genius was lost in translation, it was written in Russian then translated to English, or if it was simply that in the 25 years spanning the works he became a bet ...more
If Nabokov's second novel reminded me of one of my favorite writers—Marcel Proust—his third, The Luzhin Defense, brings to mind another: Virginia Woolf. Given that The Luzhin Defense concerns the gradual mental disintegration of a Russian chess grandmaster, and given that Nabokov had apparently not yet read Woolf (when he did, in 1933, he claimed a low opinion of her work), its Woolfian overtones are a bit surprising. But consider this passage, in which the now-middle-aged Luzhin remembers how h ...more
Jul 13, 2016 sotoodeh rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
داستان زندگی نابغه شطرنجبازي که زندگی خودشو گرفتار در خانه های شطرنجی می بینه. نبوغ در شطرنج و منزوی بودن شخصیتش زندگی اونو به جنون ميکشونه، طوری که بودن برای اون محکوم به تکرار الگوهای بازی میشه، و راهی غیر قابل برگشت جلو اون ميزاره، که رهایی غیر قابل ممکن میشه، طوری که احساس میکنه تمام زندگیش قبلا بازی شده. پس برای دفاع به خارج شدن از بازی تن میده
Mar 13, 2016 Stefania rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Όπως ξέρουν να γράφουν μονάχα οι Γερμανοί και οι Ρώσοι κλασσικοί συγγραφείς
Raheleh pourazar
Dec 20, 2015 Raheleh pourazar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
جنگل خاموش و نمناک بود. گریه ی سیری کرد و بعد مدتی با یک سوسک بازی کرد که شاخک هایش را با حالتی عصبی تکان می داد، و مدتی هم طول کشید تا آن را با سنگ له کند، چون می خواست همان صدای له شدن اولیه تکرار شود.
A story of an ill fated chess genius. This quote by Oscar Levant pretty much sums it up:

"There's a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line."
Elena Yurievna

Моя попытка получше узнать настоящего, не лолитинского Набокова, а свободного от нависающей «славы» скандального романа. Язык все такой же замечательно «вкусный», сюжет интересен и захватывает. Но что-то все равно было не так.

Тяжело мне дался Лужин – не исключено, потому что сам непростой человек. Характер письма Набокова как бы погружает читателя в книгу. И там бедному читателю уже не спастись от мрачной сущности Лужина.

В тексте великое множество карика
Jan 17, 2012 Danceangel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Определенное и однозначное отличие великой книги от просто хорошей - это то, что ты погружаешься в нее настолько, что перестаешь замечать окружающую реальность. И когда закрываешь книгу, то еще несколько секунд с удивлением оглядываешься, где это ты и что здесь вообще происходит - настолько реальным оказывается происходящее в книге, так сильно оно увлекает и задевает.

Все, что случается с Лужиным, не кажется надуманным хоть сколько-нибудь, не возникает впечатления, что вот эта сцена или эта детал
Nov 24, 2013 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great story, mediocre book

I hate to say this is the first Nabokov book I've read, but it is. I'm thoroughly impressed with his writing and imagery and the story as a whole is a great one, but the middle is almost insufferable with the story of his hospitalization and marriage. Nabokov did a great job portraying post-revolutionary Russian emigre and their scattered lives in Europe, but most of the characters seem to fall a little flat in the end. Luzhin himself somehow exists dually in my mind as
Πρώτος μου Ναμπόκοφ και δεν το μετανοιώνω. Αυτό που μετανοιώνω είναι που δεν το διάβασα στα Αγγλικά. Αλλά μερικές φορές τα βιβλία μας διαλέγουν, δεν τα διαλέγουμε.

Ο Ναμπόκοφ είναι μάστορας του λόγου, δεν υπάρχει αμφιβολία. Από τους πιο εντυπωσιακούς που έχω διαβάσει. Αν και η μετάφραση πρέπει να σκόνταφτε κάπου κάπου στον μακροπερίοδο λόγο του.

Η ιστορία που διηγείται είναι άλλη υπόθεση. Κι η πρόθεση του, αν υπάρχει, τρίτη.

Η ιστορία του Λούζιν δεν μου είναι κατανοητή. Η ψυχική κατάσταση του ήρ
Feb 18, 2015 Rafa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Es innegable el interés del autor por los personajes brillantes en su actividad pero sin habilidades sociales. Psicológica y con buenos golpes de humor.
Harsha Varma
Reading Nabokov has to be one of the truest pleasures in literature. I have never come across a writer with a better command over the English language; one, who transcends the language barrier to make it art-like. For example, take the immaculate use of metaphors throughout his novels. In the Luzhin's defense, the world championship match between Luzhin and Turati (the main competitor) is incredibly well written. During the match, Luzhin is hunting for his next move. Nabokov paints a great pictu ...more
Sep 07, 2011 Mike rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Take an ecstatic man speaking rapturously from his pulpit. To his converts, this can enrich and reward as the words lure them in…but, depending on person or circumstance, the long-winded joyousness (if unrelatable) can be tedious and irritating.

As a Nabokov convert, I relish his technique; it is not an issue that Nabokov possesses joyousness but lacks relatability. Speak, Memory is strikingly anti-intimate, an autobiography unusually aloof, desperate to keep the reader and his own past at arm’s
Frank Hestvik

First off: I thought Luzhin was an actual chess player and that this "Luzhin Defense" was an actual opening used in chess. I must have heard or read about this book ten years ago, when I attempted (briefly) to go beyond the rules of that game, and the memory of the book somehow fused with what I now remember about chess. So I thought this book was supposed to be a sort of fictionalized biography. I was bemused by the introduction, since it didn't talk about the real Luzhin at all, but stated tha
Jan 12, 2009 Frank rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had an unhappy childhood; I was shy, socially awkward, always picked last for sports teams, and endured school as a necessary evil until about the age of 16. When I first read a novel about someone else with a miserable childhood, it was a revelation. I realized I wasn’t alone. Now I’m a middle-aged jerk who suspects these books have long since become a genre.
Originally published in Russian in 1930 by a Berlin emigre publishing house, The Defense is the story of Luzhin, a Russian emigre chess
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Nabokov in Three ...: Initial Impressions 1 16 Oct 08, 2011 01:50AM  
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  • The Selected Poems
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Russian: Владимир Владимирович Набоков

Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov, also known by the pen name Vladimir Sirin, was a Russian-American novelist. Nabokov wrote his first nine novels in Russian, then rose to international prominence as a master English prose stylist. He also made significant contributions to lepidoptery and had an interest in chess problems.

Nabokov's Lolita (1955) is frequently cit
More about Vladimir Nabokov...

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“And perhaps it was precisely because she knew nothing at all about chess that chess for her was not simply a parlor game or a pleasant pastime, but a mysterious art equal to all the recognized arts. She had never been in close contact with such people — there was no one to compare him with except those inspired eccentrics, musicians and poets whose image one knows as clearly and as vaguely as that of a Roman Emperor, an inquisitor or a comedy miser. Her memory contained a modest dimly lit gallery with a sequence of all the people who had in any way caught her fancy.” 3 likes
“To the sound of this voice, to the music of the chessboard's evil lure, Luzhin recalled, with the exquisite, moist melancholy peculiar to recollections of love, a thousand games that he had played in the past... There were combinations, pure and harmonious, where thought ascended marble stairs to victory; there were tender stirrings in one corner of the board, and a passionate explosion, and the fanfare of the Queen going to its sacrificial doom.” 2 likes
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