Edward FitzGerald, Omar Khayyám, 1st Edition 1859, Quatrain 49

In his account of the 1972 Fischer-Spassky match, Koestler repeatedly savours the thought that chess is a paradigm of the human mind. That it is so is supported by the works of Carroll and Nabokov, each authors of two of the foremost literary performances of the last two centuries. Alice in Wonderland and Lolita are paradigms of the body; Through the Looking-Glass and Pale Fire are paradigms of the mind. Nabokov is claimed as either an American or Russian author, depending on the affiliation of the academic making the claim. In fact he is an essentially English and European writer, in style and mental convolution, in spite of the American settings of some of his works. His non-Russian early reading, let alone the studies of his Cambridge period, was English. Lewis Carroll's dream-books were his earliest translations, and are the most abiding influence on his output, which owes little to American literature. (Poe? James?). Lolita and Pale Fire are post-Victorian, post-Romantic, metamorphoses of Wonderland and Looking-Glass, with the latter of each pair patterned on the game of chess.



just a game