Chess Among the Jews

Author: Steinschneider, Moritz (1816-1907)

Publisher: Oxford Academia Publishers

Location: Oxford

Year: 1995



176+[27 unnumbered pages]-[28]-70+[4 index] pages with diagram, appendix, facsimiles and index. Small folio (11 3/4" x 8 1/2") bound in grey cloth with gilt lettering and pictorial to spine and cover. Translated and annotated by Victor Keats. Volume III in Keats'; work on the Chess among the Jews. First English edition.

Moritz Steinschneider has been described as the outstanding figure in Jewish bibliography. For much of his life he was active as a teacher in Berlin. In 1869 he became assistant librarian at the Berlin State Library. His interest in Arabic as well as Hebrew literature (reflected in Die arabische Literatur der Juden, Frankfurt am Main 1902) was one of the factors qualifying him to write on the history of chess. Steinschneider compiled a catalog of Hebrew books in the Bodleian Library at Oxford (Catalogus Librorum Hebraeorum in Bibliotheca Bodleiana, 1852-60) which is still in sue today. A notable point is that nearly two centuries earlier, the Curator of the Library had been Thomas Hyde (1636-1702), another distinguished scholar who researched the subject of chess history in general and Hebrew chess literature in particular. Hyde published his findings in De Ludis Orientalibus (Book fo Oriental Games, Oxford 1694); Steinschneider pays tribute to the work in his own monography entitled Schach bei den Juden - Chess among the Jews - of which the present book offers the first English translation. As Steinschneider explains in his preface, Chess among the Jews was originally written as a contribution to the book Geschichte und Litteratur des Schachspiels under the overall authorship of Antonius van der Linde. the latter book is one of the standard works on chess history; it appeared in Berlin in 1874, and was reprinted in Zurich in 1981. the section written by Steinschneider forms a largely self-contained essay, and was issued as an offprint in 1873 before publication of the main work. The painstaking research that went into Steinschneider's treatise is immediately obvious. The text lays emphasis on detailed descriptions of relevant Hebrew and other publications and on a careful comparison of their various editions. This approach is partly determined by the overall format of History and Literature of Chess, in which the historical exposition is constructed round exhaustive bibliographical inventories. In the process, Steinschneider unsparingly criticizes the failings of previous editors, translators and bibliographers. At time Steinschneider goes to undue length to clarify a minor controversy related only marginally to the main theme. Aiming for comprehensive documentation, he augments the text with references that occasionally contain only a minimum of relevant information. However, if Steinschneider must sometimes face the charge of pedantry and unnecessary diffuseness, we should bear in mind that these faults merely stem from excessive adherence to his own exacting scholarly standards.


Corners bumped else a near fine copy.

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