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Chess Story (New York Review Books Classics) (original 1942; edition 2005)

by Stefan Zweig, Joel Rotenberg (Translator), Peter Gay (Introduction)

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2,228582,892 (4.13)275
Member:goddesspt2
Title:Chess Story (New York Review Books Classics)
Authors:Stefan Zweig
Other authors:Joel Rotenberg (Translator), Peter Gay (Introduction)
Info:NYRB Classics (2005), Paperback, 104 pages
Collections:Your library, 2012 Read
Rating:****
Tags:German literature, Austrian literature, Austria, Germany, chess, WWII

Work details

Chess by Stefan Zweig (1942)

  1. 30
    The Defense by Vladimir Nabokov (Arvoitus)
    Arvoitus: Because it's another work about chess and madness. The very difference is the status of the game player, chess is his life. You can also look at this novel as a political one.
  2. 30
    The Master of Go by Yasunari Kawabata (hippietrail)
  3. 10
    The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky (fuzzy_patters)
  4. 00
    The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth (chwiggy)
  5. 00
    The Luneburg Variation by Paolo Maurensig (rvdm61)
  6. 00
    Detective Story by Imre Kertész (caitlinlizzy)
  7. 00
    The King of Chess by Ah Cheng (sriq)
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» See also 275 mentions

English (40)  French (5)  Dutch (5)  Catalan (2)  Spanish (2)  Italian (2)  Norwegian (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (58)
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
A wonderful novella, a commentary on the Nazi occupation of Austria and a discussion on how there is no one way to achieve a goal, which of course is a commentary on Nazism itself, no? And chess, of course. The chess is well done, which it often isn't in novels. Great characters.

Read this in one morning as I was waiting for my wife and son to get back from zip lining in Tortola. Such is life. ( )
  BooksForDinner | Feb 15, 2016 |
This fascinating book is about a business man who was arrested by the Gestapo for a period of one year. While imprisoned, he taught himself chess which serves him well when he comes up against a bona fide grand master. The final twist, upon reflection, digs quite deep into the characters' psyche. I highly recommend this last book by Stefan Zweig before he and his wife committed suicide. ( )
  eadieburke | Jan 19, 2016 |
Powerful psychological novella about a man, Dr. B. and the nature of obsession or mania. The action takes place on board a ship heading for Buenos Aires. Dr. B. plays two games against a savant, a world chess champion, Mirko Czentovic. Dr. B. hasn't played chess for 20-25 years. Aires, Dr. B. tells his story to the unnamed narrator when the narrator has cornered him on deck. The tension was exquisite and this novella was a masterpiece of short fiction. I am no chess player [or a very bad one] but I feel anyone can enjoy this story. ( )
  janerawoof | Nov 29, 2015 |
Via boek van Dimitri omtrent waanzin.
  Beerbart | Jun 5, 2015 |
This is a short novella about two chess masters who meet on a boat and play each other. One is the world champion of chess and has come from an obscure upbringing. It was discovered in his teenage years that though he had seemingly no other talents or intellectual capacity, he was a master at chess. The other player learned chess in a cell where he was being held and interrogated by the Nazis. He is unknown to the chess world.

The comparison between these two men and their road to chess is interesting and thoughtfully written. I read this book in an hour and want to read more. There were many layers to the story and writing that keep it very interesting and make you keep pondering the story after finishing. I'm intrigued by Stefan Zweig. ( )
2 vote japaul22 | Apr 29, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Zweig, Stefanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bell, AntheaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fleckhaus, WillyCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gay, PeterIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pein-Schmidt, UschiContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Radvan, FlorianEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rogal, StefanContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Steiner, AnneEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Unseld, SiegfriedAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ursula MonsenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
On the great passenger steamer, due to depart New York for Buenos Aires at midnight, there was the usual last-minute bustle and commotion.
Quotations
All my life I have been passionately interested in monomaniacs of any kind, people carried away by a single idea. The more one limits oneself, the closer one is to the infinite; these people, as unworldly as they seem, burrow like termites into their own particular material to construct, in miniature, a strange and utterly individual image of the world.
But is it not already an insult to call chess anything so narrow as a game? Is it not also a science, an art, hovering between these categories like Muhammad's coffin between heaven and earth, a unique yoking of opposites, ancient and yet eternally new, mechanically constituted an yet an activity of the imagination alone, limited to a fixed geometric area but unlimited in its permutations, constantly evolving and yet sterile, a cogitation producing nothing, a mathematics calculating nothing, an art without an artwork, an architecture without substance and yet demonstrably more durable in its essence and actual form than all books and works, the only game that belongs to all peoples and all eras, while no one knows what god put it on earth to deaden boredom, sharpen the mind, and fortify the spirit?
Yet how difficult, how impossible it is to imagine the life of an intellectually active person who reduces the world to a shuttle between black and white, who seeks fulfillment in a mere to-and-fro, forward-and-back or thirty-two pieces, someone for whom a new opening that allows the knight to be advanced instead of the pawn is in itself a great accomplishment and a meager little piece of immortality in a corner of a chess book - someone, someone with a brain in his head, who, without going mad continues over and over for ten, twenty, thirty, forty years to devote all the force of his thought to the ridiculous end of cornering a wooden king on a wooden board!
But even thoughts, insubstantial as they seem, need a footing, or they begin to spin, to run in frenzied circles; they can't bear nothingness either.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
From the publisher-
Chess Story, also known as The Royal Game, is the Austrian master Stefan Zweig's final achievement, completed in Brazilian exile and sent off to his American publisher only days before his suicide in 1942. It is the only story in which Zweig looks at Nazism, and he does so with characteristic emphasis on the psychological.

Travelers by ship from New York to Buenos Aires find that on board with them is the world champion of chess, an arrogant and unfriendly man. They come together to try their skills against him and are soundly defeated. Then a mysterious passenger steps forward to advise them and their fortunes change. How he came to possess his extraordinary grasp of the game of chess and at what cost lie at the heart of Zweig's story.

This new translation of Chess Story brings out the work's unusual mixture of high suspense and poignant reflection.
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"The art of the great Austian writer Stefan Zweig was a difficult balancing act. Zweig's major subject was human limitation, above all the ways in which the best of intentions can lead people into the murkiest of emotional and moral cul-de-sacs. And yet Zweig also hoped to illumine those dark places of the heart and mind, to show that it is not, finally, impossible to attain a true perspective on our limitations, even to care for each other. Zweig, much like his contemporary E.M. Forster, was liberal and humanist to the core, gambling on human goodness against the specters of oppression and despair."… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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