Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

"The Poetry of Chess", Andrew Waterman (ed) (Anvil Press, 1981)

It starts with a c.20 page article by the editor. Here are some extracts -

  • "One might amuse oneself by pairing chess players with poets: Korchnoi with Lowell, both risk-taking complicators; ... Lasker ... with Wordsworth .. ; Nimzowitsch, triumphing through the arcane and concocting theory from his highly subjective chess practice, with the early Eliot ... ; Petrosian .. is the Samuel Beckett of chess" (p.12).
  • "more than any other sport or game chess resembles writing, painting and music in being an obsessional mental activity preoccupied with exploring tension and complication to resolve then to triumphant harmony" (p.17).
  • "In Surrey's fine 'To the Lady that Scorned Her Lover', chess as metaphor for a love-relationship enters English poetry; perhaps surprisingly late, for the theme has occurred in Arabic literature and in medieval Europe chess was a feminine as well as masculine aristocratic pastime" (p.19).

Then there are poems. I like "A game of chess" by Elizabeth Jennings and Carol Rumens' "A Poem for Chessmen at a Congress" -

It's like an examination
- or some vast dinner party
where the guests sit in pairs
and politely demolish each other
My history is not yours.
Long ago, I set up my pieces
against my father, as you did,
but it was only for fun.
Pretty face, I was free to lose.

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