Chess Story (New York Review Books Classics)
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
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.
when Hitler took the helm in Germany and began his raids on the property of the Church and the monasteries, we handled a variety of negotiations and transactions (some of them even originating abroad) to save at least the movable assets from being impounded. The two of us knew more about certain secret political negotiations of the Curia and the imperial family than the public will ever learn of. But the very inconspicuousness of our office (we didn’t even have a sign on the door), as well as the
they clutched avidly at every detail. I examined every crease in those coats, I noticed for example a raindrop hanging from one of the wet collars, and, as ridiculous as it may sound to you, I waited with absurd excitement to see whether this drop would eventually run off along the crease, or whether it would defy gravity and keep clinging—yes, I stared and stared at that drop breathlessly for minutes on end as though my life depended on it. Then, when it had finally rolled off, I counted the
of mental overstimulation, for which I have found no name but one heretofore unknown to medicine: chess sickness. Ultimately this monomaniacal obsession began to attack my body as well as my mind. I lost weight, my sleep was troubled and fitful, when I woke up it always took special effort to force my leaden eyelids open; sometimes I felt so weak that when I held a glass it was all I could do to bring it to my lips, my hands were trembling so much; but as soon as I began to play, a furious energy
that was quite new, but, for all his joy of discovery, he still did not wish to neglect his duty to perform the Sunday services; he declared himself willing to leave Mirko behind for a further test. The young Czentovic was put up in the hotel at the chess club’s expense and saw a water closet that evening for the first time. The next afternoon, the chess room in the café was jammed. Mirko, sitting motionless in front of the board for four hours, defeated one player after another without uttering
by this dogged pride; finally I accepted it as an unavoidable side effect of my real purpose, to lure the world champion to our table. On the third day the plan succeeded, or partly. Whether Czentovic had looked through the porthole on the promenade deck and seen us in front of the chessboard or had just happened to honor the smoking room with his presence—in any event, as soon as he saw two incompetents practicing his art, he was compelled to step closer and while maintaining a careful distance