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The 64-Square Looking Glass: Great Games of Chess in World Literature

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Even a quick look at the table of contents reveals the breadth and vigor of this anthology. Entries progress with ease from the reverent (Charles Krauthammer's) to the celebratory (Ezra Pound's), the nonsensical (Lewis Carroll's) to the ruminatory (Stefan Zweig's) to the comedic (Woody Allen's) to the poignant (Julian Barnes's). The chess-playing scene from Anne Bronte's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall depicts an erotically charged Victorian battle of the sexes, while Kurt Vonnegut's 1953 short story ``All the King's Horses'' is a Cold War allegory that vivifies the mental stresses and ruthlessness of the game. Other distinctive contributions come from Vladimir Nabokov, Samuel Beckett and less likely writers, among them Ian Fleming, Sholem Aleichem and Harry Kemelmen. In brief introductions Hochberg (coauthor of Winning with Chess Psychology ) affords even the uninitiated a proper sense of perspective, and his 44 selections cover a variety of genres (poems, stories, drama, excerpts from novels) and geographical range as well (Russia, Spain, Argentina, Poland). Like all thematic anthologies, this volume is obsessional--all the more so because it reflects an obsessional game. Avid chess players may devour this whole; others will need to partake of it in measured helpings. (Dec.)
Gilbert Taylor
Chess's way of luring the neurotically intelligent into its "vertiginous depths," according to lead-off essayist Charles Krauthammer, has produced two sorts of literature. The first is fiction; the second is technical explanations of why, say, the Nimrod Variation Declined of the Nimzo-Indian Defense should never be used against a grandmaster. The persnickety exactitude of technical explanations gets some ribbing by fiction writers (e.g., Samuel Beckett and Woody Allen), but the laughs in this anthology are infrequent. Deadly serious, the 40-plus passages in general depict slightly sane eccentrics dueling over the board, sometimes in sporting competition, sometimes for high stakes. In the extreme, as Bobby Fischer once claimed, the goal is not just winning, but the destruction of the opponent's ego. Thus the thematic range stretches from whimsical conceits such as "Chess Reclaims a Devotee" by A. Kreymborg to a murderous tale by Kurt Vonnegut. A delectable sampler that should comfort the millions of players wondering if all the time brooding over P-K4 has any meaning beyond the board's hostile confines. Good for libraries too: the last such anthology was published 11 years ago.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812919295
  • Publisher: Random House Information Group
  • Publication date: 1/26/1993
  • Series: Other Ser.
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 95
  • Product dimensions: 6.56 (w) x 9.53 (h) x 1.22 (d)

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