Cards and Chess

Thomas Karshan

in Vladimir Nabokov and the Art of Play

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199603985
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725333 | DOI:

Series: Oxford English Monographs

Cards and Chess

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  • Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)


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The third chapter discusses Nabokov's second and third novels, King, Queen, Knave and The Luzhin Defense, which, like the Alice books, are structured, respectively, on the model of cards and of chess. The first is about play as attack and the second is about play as defence. The first demonstrates that free play without rules is not possible or desirable, the second that play and chance cannot be eliminated from the game of life. The section on The Luzhin Defense also discusses Nabokov's other writings on chess over the course of the 1920s, showing how detailed was Nabokov's interest in particular chess players and schools.

Keywords: Nabokov; play; game; chess; cards; Bely; Schiller; doubles; inversion; folly; humanity; childhood; Freud; Winnicott; psychoanalysis

Chapter.  11538 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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