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This thesis will argue that in the western European tradition, chess in literature represents both a pedagogical tool which instructs one in the art of living well, through allegory and Platonic dialogue, but also a Narcissan mirror uncannily similar to reality. As a tool and intellectual pastime, chess is virtuous, but latent with depths dangerously enthralling as an end in itself. Thus, chess carries inside its squares a lesson for living virtuously in the world but the danger arises when the chess mirror becomes a world unto itself. It is a game of self-fashioning and self-destruction. Instead of remaining confined to a particular age or genre, this argument will center upon three eras of chess literature, beginning with the Middle Ages, moving next to humanist Italy, and concluding with the modernist novel.
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Torrens-Martin, Kaleth Marcus, "Renaissance Self-Destruction: The Virtue and Danger of Chess in European Literature" (2023). Senior Projects Spring 2023. 311.
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