Immen's Reviews > The Luzhin Defense

The Luzhin Defense by Vladimir Nabokov
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U 50x66
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Jan 17, 15

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A good-times meditation on insanity. There's a lot of dark/light chessboards-everywhere imagery, which is the main thrust of the good-times, but what I wrote down was "From a shop of talking and playing machines came the sound of fragile music and someone closed the door so the music would not catch cold." Then there are two instances of fire feeling, that struck me -- "a candle whose flame darted about in his hands, maddened at being carried out of the warm church into the unknown darkness, and finally died of a heart attack at the corner of the street where a gust of wind bore down from the Neva", and later "the black match tip, writhing in pain after having just gone out in his fingers". Dramatic! And unrelatedly, though I felt it powerfully, the uncomfortably soft, dense and sneezy sensation of the phrase "the bridge where you sink up to your ankles in sawdust."

The book is more concerned with the development of themes than of plot. Like a musical theme that enters and reenters, the theme of music, "harmonious patterns", as a metaphor for chess (also musical prodigies vs chess prodigies, a sweet boy in a nightgown playing the piano in the night, and so forth) weaves through the story. It's very pretty. Poetic. I fell asleep twice while reading this book and had weird dreams.

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