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Stefan Zweig would be on my short-short list of "Greatest Writers Ever." The two novellas I have read by him, "The Royal Game" (1941, "Schachnovelle" in German) and "Amok" (1922, Der Amokläufe in German), are as good as any short stories I've ever read, and if someone held a gun to my head, and forced me to pick the single greatest short story I've ever read, it would be "The Royal Game" (and, quite frankly, I don't have any idea what the runner-up would be). It is, in my eyes, an almost-perfect novella, especially its structure in A-B-AB form - it's like reading a Beethoven Sonata. To put the admittedly hyperbolic statements above in perspective, Fyodor Dostoyevsky would also be on that list, which you could count with the fingers of one hand. Structure and architecture are two extremely important things to me, and Zweig's structure cannot be improved upon - it's like reading a Bach Fugue. There's one potentially ruinous thing about "The Royal Game," and that is the translation. Zweig was personal friends with Sigmund Freud, and human psychology is an integral part of his writing - for this reason alone, it is imperative to find a well-translated version of his works. The book that DIShGo read (which I own, "The Royal Game & Other Stories") is translated in the fashion of "stuffy British English," and I cannot even find the name of the translator, though I've only spent about fifteen minutes looking online. The first time I read "The Royal Game" was nearly twenty years ago, and it was the subject being discussed in a book that was called something like, "What Is Art?" I lent it to a friend, and never got it back. , so I remember neither the exact name of the book, nor the name of the translator, but *that* version was what reeled me in like a fish; this four-story anthology is a crime against humanity for what it did to Zweig's masterpiece. Oh, the story is still there, and you'll see how wonderful it is, but that extra 10% of magic is gone due to the formality of the language used - Zweig desperately needs to be translated in an almost conversational style since his works deal with such intense human emotion; the compendium available on Amazon makes you feel like you're reading a news article instead of reading Zweig's own words. I feel helpless, not being able to recommend a good translation to you, because it is absolutely imperative. Anyway, I leafed through this translation (the compendium on Amazon), and was aghast at the writing style. Phrases and words that you'll simply never hear spoken in your entire life are used with regularity, and it actually made me *sad* that people are reading this, thinking they're reading Zweig. Regardless, I decided to bite my lip, and read the second story in the compendium, "Amok," and even with this stiff language, it is abundantly clear that I was reading a masterpiece - a work that could have only been written by an author so profound that even a stuffy translator couldn't ruin it. "Amok" was an unbelievably great novella, the kind of story that you *hate* putting down because you have to be somewhere - it's only forty pages long, so can be easily read - savored - in a couple hours of focused attention. I will not ruin the story for you, at least not in this post, but perhaps if anyone wishes to discuss it, I'll include a prominent *** SPOILERS *** section so as not to ruin it for the uninitiated - but not yet. "Amok' was a story so engaging that I might come out and say it's the second-greatest novella I've ever read; yet, according to DIShGo, it may not even be the second-best novella in this one compendium! There is very little chance at this point of me finding out the name of the original book I had, much less the translator, but I can say with confidence to avoid this edition on Amazon. "The Royal Game" is clearly divided into three sections, and was labeled as such; *this* compendium doesn't even have the decency to label the "sections" 1, 2, and 3 - it just crams everything together. Never have I read a story that is so clearly demarcated - a child could have put in the section numbers without even knowing anything about the novella. "The Royal Game" was published just before Zweig committed suicide. I wonder if he knew, deep down inside, that he had produced a work of such profundity that it could never again be matched. Almost surely not - Zweig had some personal problems, but they came out in full Technicolor in his writing - writing that can only be described with one word in the English language: genius. Never have I raved about an author like this, and once you read Zweig's works, you'll understand why. You'll *hate* it when they end. I must add that I have read precisely two novellas by Zweig, hardly making me an expert, so this essay must be tempered with the appropriate grain of salt. That said, I'm so confident in this man's genius, that I could commit to reading *only him* for the rest of my life, and if the body of work was large enough, it would be a life well-spent. --- This is important, so keep reading! PS - There is hope! My friend answered my desperate text message with a response - the book is called "Understanding the Arts," (*) and it was written by John Hospers. I don't understand how book sellers can sell books on Amazon for one cent, but it seems to be available in some fashion on Amazon.com (can anyone explain this to me? They charge $3.99 for shipping, but that hardly makes them any money). Anyway, my friend couldn't find the translator, but he told me to research "the 1972 Viking Penguin reprint," because that's the one they use in this book. I asked him to type out the first sentence of the translation, and it is this: "The big liner, due to sail from New York to Buenos Aires at midnight, was filled with the activity and bustle incident to the last hour...." - that is the edition that you want. Interestingly, my friend and I are also chatting, and he said the only reason he found the book was because he's insisting that his friend read "Schachnovelle," adding, "It is the greatest short story I know," and this guy is a hyper-genius. Get this edition and read it! (*) OMFG - the entire edition is online! It's not the most enjoyable way to read a book, but you can at least *read the book* if you don't mind scrolling through the pages (I personally *hate* doing this - it's like listening to a great piece of music through a pair of earbuds, and in my opinion, ruins the experience).
If I were forced to pick one desert-island piece of piano music - perhaps *any* piece of music - the Piano Concerto #2 in B-Flat Major, Opus 83, by Johannes Brahms, would be under serious consideration - I could spend the rest of my life studying just this one piece, and still not plumb its immense depths. It is, simply put, one of the greatest pieces of music ever written - one of the greatest works of art produced in the history of mankind. B2, as I affectionately call it, is a piece of such profundity that I cannot adequately convey it using the clumsy written word; instead, I will direct you to one particularly great recording. At around 50 minutes in length, it is no small feat to get through, but each of the four movements is its own masterpiece, and listening to parts of it is better than never having heard it at all. I cannot imagine what could have possessed a human being to think of something this epic in scope - the profound encapsulation of musical heroism, written down with pen and paper. It is the equivalent of any Beethoven Symphony or Sonata, or of any painting by da Vinci, or of any play by Shakespeare. We can start right here with my choice for the greatest pianist who ever lived: Sviatislav Richter. It's in five parts on YouTube, so you'll need to listen to all five to hear the entire piece. You can spend as much time listening to this piece as you would reading War and Peace, and your time will be equally well-spent here: 1st Movement - Allegro non Troppo (This is a very long movement, and it was apparently necessary to split it into two YouTube entries.) 2nd Movement - Allegro Appassionato (Just when you think music can't get any more profound than the 1st movement, along comes the second.) 3rd Movement - Andante (This long, expansive, absolutely beautiful movement is almost desperately needed after the 1st 2 movements, which leave the listener completely spent.) 4th Movement - Allegro Grazioso (The ten-second passage from 1:56 - 2:06 is unspeakably difficult, but notice also the call-and-response motif from 1:05 - 1:30 - it is imperative to play this lightly.)
Here is the official website for the 2015 U.S. Open, running Aug 31 - Sep 13, 2015 Scores & Stats - Draws - Schedule - Players - Video & Photos - News - Event Guide - Social - Shop - Tickets Do yourselves a favor: Even if you haven't traditionally been a huge tennis fan, try and get into the U.S. Open this year - it's a great tournament, and the players right now are as good as they will be for a long time into the future - the top players are getting older, and the chances you have to see them are growing smaller and smaller.These are halcyon times for tennis, and it's a good time to be getting into it as a spectator - imagine if you could tell your grandchildren that you watched Rod Laver beat Ken Rosewall. If anyone has any questions at all, no matter how rudimentary, either post them here, or send me a Private Message. I'll be happy to help you out in any way I can, and there's no such thing as a "stupid" question, I promise you - you can't possibly expect to know things if you've never been told them before.