L'imaginaire du jeu d'échecs en France au XIXe siècle, ou la conversion intellectuelle du guerrier

Translated title of the contribution: The imaginary of chess-playing in 19th-century France, or the intellectual conversion of the warrior

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Le Palamède, the first chess journal, closely linked to the chess club of the Café de la Régence in Paris, is founded during the nineteenth century. It contributed to the shaping of the chess player myth as an image of cerebrality. Yet, the analysis of this journal and its avatars during the nineteenth century, shows the proximity between the chess player's figure and that of the warrior and allows us to see the process of intellectualization of violence, a process described by many historians. As for the importance of aristocratic values, we can observe that most of the references to civilization were concomitant to a patriotic and warlike rhetoric. Even if they celebrated 'l'homme moyen' (the average man), these journals gave a mythic dimension to the chess player by looking for his glorious origins and by associating him to the medieval figure of the errant knight. We then see an intellectual conversion of the warrior in which the civilising process meets with proselytism, propaganda and activism. This double movement should be connected to the birth of the figure of the 'intellectual' in the early nineteenth century, although this particular 'intellectual' would not necessarily side with Dreyfus.

Translated title of the contributionThe imaginary of chess-playing in 19th-century France, or the intellectual conversion of the warrior
Original languageFrench
Pages (from-to)131-146
Number of pages16
JournalRevue d'Histoire du XIXe Siecle
Volume40
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 22 Dec 2010

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