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Chess Story (New York Review Books Classics)…

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

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

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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
Tags:German literature, Austrian literature, Austria, Germany, chess, WWII

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Chess Story by Stefan Zweig (1942)

Recently added byNiafer, pikkendorff, untitledviii, private library, bluebagel, ohnoinky, BattyKoda
(8) 1001 (13) 1001 books (12) 20th century (35) Austria (49) Austrian (23) Austrian literature (42) Belletristik (14) chess (131) classic (17) classics (8) fiction (160) German (56) German literature (50) Germany (10) literature (51) Nazism (15) novel (38) novella (69) NYRB (17) own (8) psychology (12) read (17) Roman (35) Stefan Zweig (12) to-read (26) translation (18) unread (8) WWII (29) Zweig (12)
  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
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  3. 10
    The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky (fuzzy_patters)
  4. 00
    The King of Chess by Ah Cheng (sriq)
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    Detective Story by Imre Kertesz (caitlinlizzy)

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English (31)  Dutch (5)  French (4)  Italian (2)  Spanish (2)  Norwegian (1)  Danish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (47)
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This book is intended for adults but would be suitable for teens to read. The novella deals with literary tropes and ideas that would be discussed in any high school English class. ( )
  Nerdfighters | Feb 17, 2014 |
A quick read and one that is riveting from the get-go. Zweig can certainly relate a good story. His tone, always for me, is one as if a very close and trusted friend is sitting in a chair in front of me and letting me into something important I may not have known or heard of lately. Quite a talent. I read a different translation than this book, a collection of his shorter works, and titled The Royal Game. ( )
  MSarki | Sep 25, 2013 |
This is a book about totalitarianism, strategy and the control of the mind. The story is plotted like a game of chess, with moves and counter moves, resolving into a formal check mate. It is a tale of high melodrama on the high seas. The idea of chess itself does not fare well in the story - it is portrayed as a somewhat pointless source of madness and escape that even the most dull human being can grasp.The book is full of sharp, incisive ideas. ( )
1 vote freelancer_frank | Jul 13, 2013 |
A fellow bookcrosser's favorite in a roundabout I'm taking part in. Unexpectedly it is also on the 1001-list :-)

I had mixed feelings when I received this book in a ring. Doubted if a book about chess could be interesting at all, knowing from personal experience that watching a chess game when not playing (when not really having a clue about what is going on) is VERY dull.

I must say, that my expectations didn't come true. I liked the book. The reason for that is, that I did not consider it a book about chess, more about the human mind.
Okay, the story is hung up on a couple of chess players, but the most essential part for me was Dr. B.'s story and the consequences of it in the long term.
Czentovic was not a sympathetic character in the book. I don't think he was meant that way, but still. Like I said: I don't know how to play chess, but from what I've learned at the local chess club, it is quite common to think ahead severalmoves, to act on a strategy. So apart form the fact that Czentovic wasn't sympathetic, I didn't find it very believable that he had been able to become a grand master. ( )
  BoekenTrol71 | Mar 31, 2013 |
A little piece of brain candy. There's some shadowy allegory of fascism and totalitarianism in here, although the mental drama and the battlefields of chess are exciting reads. ( )
1 vote HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (55 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Zweig, Stefanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bell, AntheaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fleckhaus, WillyCover designersecondary 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.
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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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)

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