Nabokov in Montreux, Switzerland – image: Wikipedia
Nabokov was a Russian Novelist, but also a chess composer. I was reading about ‘reading’ and ‘readers’ when I came across him – see the section about Jose’s blog where everything started this morning. I found his background very interesting -he was a chess composer, but not a chess player himself. I didn’t know about chess composers and found it quite odd that he actually never played. If he’s a composer of chess, then he must have been a good player as well. It’s interesting to see a writer turning game play into narratives. Even in his book Lolita, he uses chess as part of his narrative.
This was his 3rd novel he wrote, turned into a movie. From google-books the review: 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 As a young boy, Luzhin was unattractive, distracted, withdrawn, sullen–an enigma to his parents and an object of ridicule to his classmates.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 Luzhin’ s obsessive mind, the game of chess gradually supplants the world of reality. His own world falls apart during a crucial championship match, when the intricate defense he has devised withers under his opponent’s unexpected and unpredictabke lines of assault.[note to self: must try and read some of his books one day]
This is a quote from Wikipedia, and it’s worth reading more on Wikipedia about him: Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov; 22 April 1899 – 2 July 1977- was a Russian-born novelist. Nabokov’s first nine novels were in Russian. He then rose to international prominence as a writer of English prose. He also made serious contributions as a lepidopterist and chess composer. Nabokov’s Lolita (1955) is his most famous novel, and often considered his finest work in English. It exhibits the love of intricate word play and synesthetic detail that characterised all his works. The novel was ranked fourth in the list of the Modern Library 100 Best Novels; Pale Fire (1962) was ranked at 53rd on the same list, and his memoir, Speak, Memory, was listed eighth on the Modern Library nonfiction list. He was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction seven times, but never won it.
After the 1917 February Revolution, Nabokov’s father became a secretary of the Russian Provisional Government, and the family was forced to flee the city – after the Bolshevik Revolution – for Crimea, not expecting to be away for very long. They lived at a friend’s estate and in September 1918 moved to Livadiya; Nabokov’s father was a minister of justice of the Crimean provisional government. After the withdrawal of the German Army (November 1918) and the defeat of the White Army in early 1919, the Nabokovs sought exile in western Europe. On 2 April 1919, the family left Sevastopol on the last ship, then settled briefly in England. Vladimir enrolled in Trinity College, Cambridge, studying zoology at first, and then Slavic and Romance languages. He later drew on his Cambridge experiences to write the novel Glory. In 1920, his family moved to Berlin, where his father set up the émigré newspaper Rul’ (Rudder). Nabokov would follow to Berlin after his studies at Cambridge two years later.In March 1922, Nabokov’s father was assassinated in Berlin by Russian monarchist Piotr Shabelsky-Bork as he was trying to shield the real target, Pavel Milyukov, a leader of the Constitutional Democratic Party-in-exile. This mistaken, violent death would echo again and again in Nabokov’s fiction, where characters would meet their deaths under accidental terms. (In Pale Fire, for example, one interpretation of the novel has an assassin mistakenly kill the poet John Shade, when his actual target is a fugitive European monarch.) Shortly after his father’s death, Nabokov’s mother and sister moved to Prague.
I was reading Jose-English102’s blog about Nabokov about reading and I quote from his blog what Nabokov says: ‘According to Nabokov, a good reader should ‘ notice and fondle details.’ He believes that a good reader should use their imagination to visualize the story and try to understand it from the writers point of view, instead of making assumptions. He says that a good reader must re-read to be able to fully understand what the author is trying to say and to paint a better picture in their mind of the story. Nabokov also mentioned that a good reader should have a good imagination, memory, a dictionary, and some artistic sense.’
From ‘Brainpickings’ I found this interview: In the fall of 1969, British broadcaster and journalist James Mossman submitted 58 questions on literature and life for celebrated author Vladimir Nabokov — butterfly-lover, master of melancholy, frequenter of ideal bookshelves — for an episode of BBC-2′s Review. Nabokov ended up answering 40 of them in what is best described as part interview, part performance art, eventually published in Strong Opinions (UK; public library) — a 1973 collection of Nabokov’s finest interviews, articles and editorials. Some of the conversation is preserved in this rare original audio, with highlights transcribed below: