MODULE #2: The Defense

Nabokov's second novel, King, Queen, Knave (1928), is a logical choice for the topic of this, the second module of Virtual Nabokov. Unfortunately, the English version of KQK (1968) differs significantly from the Russian original, and readers of the translation are likely to receive a distorted impression of the development of Nabokov's fiction as a result of the differences between the two texts.

I have chosen The Defense (1930) for the second module for Virtual Nabokov for two main reasons:

1) The English translation of the novel, made by Michael Scammell in collaboration with Nabokov, is very faithful to the original Russian text.

2) The Defense is widely regarded as Nabokov's first masterpiece.

Perhaps fortuitously, a film version of the novel, titled The Luzhin Defense, was recently made, starring John Turturro. According to, the film will have its international premiere at the 25th Annual Toronto International Film Festival in early September, 2000.