The Defense

The Defense

Book - 1964
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Publisher: G.P. Putnam, [c1964]
Characteristics: 256 p

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lelandleslie
Sep 16, 2016

I didn't think this one was all that well-written. The prose seems more prosaic, less Nabokovian. The perspective often shifts onto secondary characters, which is mostly a waste of time. The novel begins strongly with characterization of the boy Luzhin, but abandons him for the adult Luzhin immediately upon his reaching the public eye, with only a poorly characterized adolescent Luzhin - surely the most vital period of time for his forming personality and outlook - briefly described in retrospect; thus continuity is snapped between the boy and the adult and they almost seem different characters. The novel for me never recovers from this misstep.

I wasn't convinced by the drawing of his wife, who married him only because she thought he needed looking after and evidently had zero needs of her own (really?), but most unfortunately for my enjoyment of the novel this adult Luzhin and his descent into madness weren't sympathetic at all. This seems to be a feature of Nabokov's works, the characters who remain at a standoffish remove from the reader, and it didn't work for me in this one.

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