John Sharples
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The chess-player and the literary detective
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This chapter considers the chess-player from a different perspective, embracing fictive and imagined properties, namely in terms of a relationship between the chess-player and the literary private detective. As Paul Metzner notes, the chess-player and the detective emerged in literature during, and as a reaction to, 'a period in which outlaws triumphed over established society, that is, during an age of revolution'. Both the cultural chess-player and the literary detective are commonly expressed as physically abnormal. Both produce an emotive impact, whether that is terror, mystery, admiration, or fascination. The marginalising of the chess-player's talents in intellectual terms is most clearly expressed in Jacques Futrelle's stories involving Professor Van Dusen, where the detective takes on a world champion chess-player in a battle of intellect. Despite his varied monstrous aspects, the detective also represents positive qualities, fulfilling a social function.

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A cultural history of chess-players

Minds, machines, and monsters


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