Thread: Literary Chess Story by Stefan Zweig
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Old 04-10-2013, 06:20 AM   #4
Spinnenmonat
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Hello everyone!
This is the first time for me to write something here. Because I study in a german-speaking country, I don't get enough chances to speak and write something in English. So I hope, I could express myself smoothly and don't make myself misunderstood.

I don't consider what I am writing here as a book review, but something which can evoke our discussion. I finished reading the book one month ago and appreciate it so much. Because I got used to the writing style of some modernist german writers such as Thomas Mann or Robert Musil, I don't find anything interesting and attractive from the language of Mr. Zweig as their contemporary, which seems to me a little bit emotionless and objective. On the other hand I admire his skill of story telling, who could tell the common things like chess or chess matches between a world champion and a group of common guys in such an exciting and interesting way. His ability to discover the new side from a common thing and make it a vehicle of conveying a great subject like Racism or national persecution is quite impressive. How can an author express the severity of national racism and violence through a chess game and how can it make sense, that several things without clear relationship could be connected and embody a thinking, or a critique of another thinking. He achieved it from my point of view.

Now I would like to raise something that confuses me. Before I began to read it I hadn't read anything about the background of story. That means, I didn't know anything about what would happen. I just read and found the life story of the chess genius quite charming. I had thought, it would be a story with intention of psychological analysis of a eccentric talented man but I was wrong. This interesting figure is nearly forgotten as the story get a new figure in and turn to another direction, the so-called biological story of another man. The leading role in the beginning becomes a supporting role, and I can't find any sensible try from the author to balance this two figures and make a sense. Maybe I could express myself more clearly, but if you finish reading the book, you can easily understand what I mean. I just want to ask, is it that necessary to present the world champion and his life in such a detailed way?
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