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Power Play: The Literature and Politics of Chess in the Late Middle Ages (The Middle Ages Series) Hardcover – June 30, 2006

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Product Details

  • Series: The Middle Ages Series
  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press (June 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081223944X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812239447
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,670,379 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Jenny Adams teaches English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

About the Author

Jenny Adams teaches English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By John L Murphy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover
"The Immortal Game" by David Shenk (recently reviewed by me) summarized Professor Adams' medieval study; she thanks him in her acknowledgements in hopes that a reader of his book may read hers, or vice versa. I found out about Adams' study through Shenk's own. As a new learner of chess and one earlier trained in medieval literature, I anticipated Adams' work would be more academic and analytical than Shenk's popularized account. I was right.

Adams incorporates ambitious questions. She wonders--

"about the intersections between the medieval cultural understandings of the game and of political responsibility. How does chess break with earlier models of secular government, in particular the state-as-body model that dominated political discourse? What are the political and cultural implications of a game with pieces designed to match European social roles? Why did allegorists repeatedly promote the similarities between the game and real life, in some cases differentiating the pawns so that each could represent a specific trade?"(5)

As this excerpt shows, Adams moves in a straightforward fashion as her own strategy.

She selects four specialized examples. Jacobus de Cessolis' "Liber de ludo scachorum," "Le Echecs amoureux," Chaucerian (and pseudo-Chaucerian "The Tale of Beryn") texts, and fifteenth-century English works, especially Caxton. Rather than offer a broader survey of medieval evolution of the pieces and their contexts in a variety of works, Adams' narrows her text considerably. She explains her "tight thematic focus as a way to help clarify my overall argument.
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