Aleksandr Ivanovich Luzhin
Aleksandr Ivanovich Luzhin (ee-VAH-noh-vihch LEW-zhihn), a world-class chess player. Growing up in an aristocratic Russian household, the solitary Luzhin develops into a brilliant chess prodigy. Estranged from his parents, who do not understand his unique talent, he travels extensively to compete in chess tournaments in Europe. After several years, he becomes so immersed in a cerebral world of chess strategies that he loses contact with everyday reality and suffers a mental breakdown during the final match of a major tournament in Berlin. Although he recovers from this breakdown with the assistance of his fiancée, who tries to keep him away from any reminders of chess, he gradually falls prey to a new obsession: He believes that the events of his life are manipulated by an invisible chess opponent. Trying desperately to foil the relentless control of this unknown opponent, Luzhin increasingly acts in irrational and unpredictable ways. Frustrated by his inability to escape the snares of his opponent, Luzhin commits suicide by jumping from his bathroom window. His last vision is of a vast chessboard, which he takes to be a sign of his future existence.
Mrs. Luzhin, a young woman with an independent mind and a compassionate spirit. She meets Aleksandr at a German resort and finds him so unusual that she decides to accept...
(The entire section is 552 words.)