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The Luzhin Defense

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  7,968 Ratings  ·  365 Reviews
A chilling story of obsession and madness. Luzhin, a distracted, withdrawn boy, takes up chess as a refuge from everyday life. As he rises to grandmaster, the game of chess gradually supplants the world of reality as he moves inexorably towards madness.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published August 11th 1990 by Vintage (first published 1930)
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Oct 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
It’s Never Too Late for a Happy Childhood

A boy who doesn’t want to grow up; a mother who loses interest in him as he does; a father who writes an idealised version of the boy’s life in which he doesn’t; and an agent who values only his client’s youthfulness: clearly not the best conditions for psychic maturation; but hardly signs of abuse.

The boy finds his solace and calling in the game of chess: “everything apart from chess was an enchanting dream... Real life, chess life, was orderly, clear cu
One of the things I like most about Nabokov’s novels is the structure, and this one has a particularly interesting structure.

At the beginning of chapter nine which is roughly half way through the book, two new characters appear out of nowhere, two young Berliners who are trying to return home after a hard night on the town. Both of them continued farther along the deserted night street, which alternately rose up smoothly to the stars and then sloped down again.

That deserted night street could re
Steven  Godin
Oct 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The combination of Chess and Nabokov seemed to me a match made in heaven, a big fan of both, this was just too tempting to turn down, even though I knew it would take something pretty remarkable to reach the heights of either 'Pale Fire' or 'Lolita', I still felt like reading what is one of his earlier Russian novels (his third written in 1930) before he embarked on his American odyssey.

The Luzhin Defence is a book that does features chess, but doesn't delve too deeply into the actual playing o
Nov 20, 2008 rated it really liked it

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.
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
Oct 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, nabokov, fiction
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.
Oct 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: oulipo-mo
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
Hossein Sharifi
Feb 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
واااااای فوق العاده بود...
همه چیز این کتاب فوق العاده است..
بنظرم یک شاهکار ادبی را همین حالا تموم کردم.

ناباکوف انگار نشسته و با کافکا و فروید و بکت، شطرنج بازی میکنه. بارها فروید رو کیش میده و با بکت و کافکا مساوی میکنه.

نمیخوام که نقد ادبی و یا ساختاری بنویسم.. در آخر کتاب جناب آقای رضا رضایی،مترجم توانای کتاب، به خوبی این کتاب رو نقد کرده.
فقط میخوام جریان سیال احساستم رو در مورد این کتاب بیان کنم.حالا که چشمام رو می بندم و باز میکنم تمام اتاق و اطرافیانم رو مثل یک صفحه ی شطرنج میبینم که در ت
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Η επαφή μου με το σκάκι είναι ανύπαρκτη, κυρίως διότι δεν διαθέτω το ενδιαφέρον και -εν τέλει- την απαιτούμενη ευφυία. Ως εκ τούτου, ακόμα και η λογοτεχνική του επικάλυψη με αφήνει καταρχάς ουδέτερο και δευτερευόντως καχύποπτο απέναντι στο εγχείρημα.
Πιστός όμως στο αξίωμα του "ΠΩΣ γράφεις και όχι στο ΤΙ γράφεις", παραμερίζω τις ενστάσεις περί περιεχομένου, και επικεντρώνομαι στην ουσία, δηλαδή στο ύφος. Η πρώτη μου επαφή μάλλον δεν ανέτρεψε την άποψη μου. Η περίφημη "Σκακιστική Νουβέλα" του Ste
Dalla parte di Lužin.

…E accorgersi all'improvviso, con un sorriso che gela sulla labbra, rabbrividendo, che la vita è tutta «una iterazione combinatoria di mosse», osservare, «con vaga ammirazione e con vago orrore con quanta paurosa raffinatezza, con quanta flessibilità, mossa dopo mossa, si fossero ripetute nel tempo le immagini della sua infanzia (casa di campagna, città, scuola, zia pietroburghese)», in un continuo cercare di giocare e rigiocare a memoria la partita della propria vita, un i
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
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
Aug 05, 2015 rated it liked it
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 and I feel like I'm left hanging.

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 c
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
Mar 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Το ασυνείδητο είναι δομημένο ως σκακιστική παρτίδα.
Apr 07, 2011 added it
Shelves: read-in-2011
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 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: russian, classics
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
Mar 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
رضایی عالی
ناباکف بی نقص
تنها از شطرنج نابلدی خود سخت خشمگینم
Oct 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Primarily I decided to read "The Luzhin Defense" as Vladimir Nabokov's sixth novel (after "Pnin," "King, Queen, Knave," "Lolita," "Laughter in the Dark" and "Transparent Things") for two reasons, (1) I'd like to read one of his novels and compare it to his "Lolita," and (2) I liked its reader-friendly fonts which I found more relaxing and easier to read than some of those published by Penguin or other English paperback publishing companies in general. However, a bit disappointed by its plot and ...more
May 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, classics
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.
Josef Del Processo
Un Nabokov da altissimi livelli

Rimuginavo da qualche giorno cosa mi ricordasse (non dico nella trama, ma nelle atmosfere cerebrali) Visioni, che ho appena finito di leggere. Ecco, finalmente si è accesa la lampadina! L'ossessione per la perfezione estetica (non è forse una forma d'arte il gioco degli scacchi?), la sublimazione della mente fuori dalla corporeità, l'inadeguatezza della genialità al mondo della materia; e anche il finale ha lo stesso tono apocalittico, il suo stesso anelito per la
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
Sep 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.
Elena Yurievna
Aug 25, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: drama, russian

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 rated it really liked it
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
Nino Chachava
Aug 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
„მაგრამ სადღა იყო ალექსანდრ ივანოვიჩი.“
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
Raheleh pourazar
Dec 20, 2015 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.
Feb 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Όπως ξέρουν να γράφουν μονάχα οι Γερμανοί και οι Ρώσοι κλασσικοί συγγραφείς
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level_bo: Книга января (2018) - Защита Лужина 17 47 Feb 01, 2018 03:13AM  
Nabokov in Three ...: Initial Impressions 1 19 Oct 08, 2011 01:50AM  
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  • Иуда Искариот
  • Conquered City
  • The Golovlyov Family
  • The Fierce and Beautiful World
  • The Selected Poems
  • Black Snow
  • The Duel and Other Stories
  • The Enchanter: Nabokov and Happiness
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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
More about Vladimir Nabokov

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“Any future is unknown – but sometimes it acquires a particular fogginess, as if some other force had come to the aid of destiny's natural reticence and distributed this resilient fog, from which thought rebounds.” 4 likes
“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
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