November 27, 2013

Chess Story by Stefan Zweig (Review)

Title: Chess Story
Author: Stefan Zweig
First published: 1941
Add it: Goodreads, The Book Depository
Rating: ★★★★★

Writing this review is gonna be difficult, so where do I start? Let's try to begin with the obvious, superficial plot. The author is on a ship, and he learns that the world chess champion Czentovic is travelling too. The champion has a very bad temper, but the author and his wealthy acquaintance manage to coax him into a play against all the enthusiasts on board. Needless to say, he wins game after game, unless a mysterious adviser appears in the group of desperate amateurs, who helps them to find a way from a tough situation and draw the game. Everybody is intrigued and ask him to play against Czentovic again. Reluctantly, he agrees, but he seems to be nervous about it, and soon the author hears his full story and learns how he has mastered chess so well.

That's pretty all that can be said about the plot of this short novella, but then it goes deeper into the remembrances of that mysterious player, and there are all the reflections about Nazi occupation, mental anguish, psychological conflicts and many more. This really cannot be described in a short review, so my only advise for you is to read it. These two hours of your reading life will not be spent in vain.

Interesting trivia: it's the last work of Zweig, he wrote it just before committing suicide in his residence in Brasil. So it's pretty desperate and reflects his view of the state of humankind in Europe.

In my book:
Dark and disturbing, but irresistibly fascinating.


  1. Sounds extremely interesting; thanks for your review!

    1. Thanks, Marian, it IS extremely interesting!

  2. I read and also posted on this book. I liked and profited from your post. I highly recommend Zweig's short story, "The Bibliophile".

    1. Thanks for stopping by, mel u! I've found your review, and let me say, you are doing amazing job for German Literature Month! I also love your header image :) I'm subscribing :)

  3. I've been reading all the Zweig I can get my hands on lately. I'm always fascinated and moved by his work. And he reminds me so much of two of my other favorites: Isak Dinesen and Irene Nemirovsky.

    1. I've marked these to as to-read. I've heard about Nemirovsky, but Dinesen doesn't ring a bell... But if you say they are like Zweig, they are worth a try :)


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