Vladimir Nabokov

'Nabokov's Cinematic Sensibility and Film Strategy in "The Defense"'

By Barbara Wyllie, 12 June, 2024

This article attempts to address two overlooked aspects concerning Nabokov's treatment of cinema in his work and his relationship to the medium. First, it considers the impact of film on Nabokov during his time in pre-revolutionary Russia, arguing that his cinematic sensibility was formed long before his arrival in émigré Berlin and that these early experiences were foundational to an interaction with cinema that continued throughout his career. Secondly, by way of Nabokov's 1928 poem, 'Kinematograf', the article focuses on his third novel, The Defense (Zashchita Luzhina), a work that has not yet been explored in terms of cinema, to reveal both contemporary film influences and the ways in which Nabokov deployed cinematic themes, styles and techniques in his portrayal of a protagonist who has until now been considered primarily in terms of chess.

Slavonic and East European Review, 101, 4, October 2023, pp. 626-669, doi:10.1353/see.2023.a923982