The Royal Game by Stefan Zweig: A masterpiece

Czentowic, arrogant chess champion, excessively narrow-minded, uneducated and surprisingly stupid, occupies the foreground until the appearance of Mr. B. As soon as this Austrian aristocrat is interested in the game delivered between the champion and amateur passengers, text direction toggle.

By an effect of symmetry, the narration is transformed into a face to face tension between a brilliant and quick mind with abstract intelligence and a brain with brutal pragmatism, incapable of true projection. A powerful staging of the resurrection of madness, this short story oscillates between openness and confinement.


In this implacable advance of destructive stupidity, an allegory of the victory of Nazism but also a masterpiece of composition, Zweig is little interested in the survival of the body, preferring to show the reactions of the mind, which finds a perfect symbol in this eminently clever but hopelessly sterile game

A gripping vision of Europe torn apart by war and Nazism, which the author wrote shortly before committing suicide.


Stefan Zweig wrote the short story between 1938 and 1941 during his exile in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, drawing inspiration from his own life of loneliness which he filled by replaying chess games. This is the last book by Zweig, who will end his life on February 22, 1942.


Maud Jaquet



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