Vladimir Nabokov’s vertiginous games

Alessandro Piperno

Vladimir Nabokov’s vertiginous games

may sat 28, 2016 - 5.30 p.m.
teatro Bolognini - Via del Presto, 5
 admission euro 3.00

Nabokov’s first two major novels are inspired by the game of chess, as is evident from their very titles: The Luzhin Defense and King, Queen, Knave. The name Luzhin, explains Nabokov in the preface to his book, “rhymes with illusion”, as if to say the connection between play and illusion is so close as to be proverbial. In his stubborn artistic coherence, he would never relinquish this idea, not even in the great novels of his maturity, written in an extremely expressive, playful and artificial English. Moreover, as kids and champion pool players know, game playing - perhaps because of ridiculous, indisputable rules - involves dignified self-denial and algebraic precision. Play is a serious thing.

When Nabokov was asked why he wrote Lolita, he replied: “I just like composing riddles with elegant solutions”. Alessandro Piperno aims to verify this claim by examining one of Nabokov’s masterpieces.

Alessandro Piperno was born in Rome in 1972 and is a lecturer in French literature at the University of Rome, Tor Vergata. His publications include two biographical essays on Proust and Baudelaire: Proust antiebreo (Franco Angeli, 2000); Il demone reazionario. Sulle tracce del «Baudelaire» di Sartre (Gaffi Editore, 2007); and three novels published by Mondadori: Con le peggiori intenzioni (2005) winner of the Campiello and Viareggio Prizes for a first work; Persecuzioni (2010); Inseparabili (2012) winner of the Strega Prize. Persecuzioni and Inseparabili were then published in the diptych Il fuoco amico dei ricordi (2012), a finalist for the French awards Médicis e Femina and winner of the Prix du Méilleur Livre Étranger. In 2013, Mondadori published his Pubblici infortuni.