Friday, February 24, 2006

The Luzhin Defense by Vladimir Nabokov

I wanted to like this book a lot since I loved Lolita, but I thought it was kind of lackluster, I think because it was translated. I always find myself wondering what they really said when I read something in translation.

Basically, there's this guy who is a chess prodigy, and he grows up to be a weird unpleasant man (there is much dwelling on how fat he is, like that makes him a bad person) and for some reason a girl falls in love with him, or at least she marries him whether or not she loves him, and he goes crazy from the chess and has a nervous breakdown.

I like reading books about people who are obsessive game players, like The Queen's Gambit or Word Freaks, but this was less about the chess playing and more about the descent into madness, and it wasn't even very interesting madness.

Next time I think I'll read one of the other ones he wrote in English.


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