The Chess Set in the Mirror (The Nautilus Series)

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9781589880313: The Chess Set in the Mirror (The Nautilus Series)

"This whimsical Italian fantasy, originally published in 1922, belongs on the shelf next to The Little Prince and Alice and Wonderland. Simple language by translator Gilson gives the novel a poetic tone, while STO's charming black-and-white illustrations add humor."—VOYA

Alone in a room with nothing but an old mirror and a chess set, a young boy anticipates a boring afternoon. But like Alice just before she fell down the rabbit hole—and wound up in Wonderland—this boy is about to embark on a marvelous adventure. Gazing at the mirror, he discovers that the chess pieces (the reflections, not the real ones) are alive! When the White King invites him into the world on the other side, the excitement begins. There, all the rules of the real world are reversed. There, you can have a perfectly reasonable conversation with a perfectly unreasonable chess piece. There, you can meet anyone who's ever looked into the mirror (even a hundred years ago). This bewildering experience leads to some odd questions: What goes on inside a mirror when no one is looking at it? What if the reflected world is more real than the one where we live? And speaking of our world, how will our hero get back to this side of the mirror?

Join him on his fantastic journey where nothing is more absurd than reason or more important than freedom of imagination.

"[A] story told in a voice that's charmingly direct, sweetly self-referential...and more than a little trippy...Like all good books for children, it also has unusual insights into childhood itself: '...when you're ten years old, standing or sitting are exactly the same.'"—Philadelphia Inquirer

"The narrator's dry wit, reminiscent of P. G. Wodehouse, makes for an appealing journey and, coupled with the whimsical pen-and-ink drawings, a charming package with a timeless air."—Publishers Weekly

"Motherhood is the theme of these two intimate novellas by Italian writer Bontempelli, who preceded such better-known authors of 'magic realism' as Jorge Luis Borges and Alejo Carpentier by more than two decades in his fusion of the miraculous and the matter-of-fact...The elegantly restrained passion of these two tales, penned in Bontempelli's delicate prose, proves yet again the writer's literary genius."—Publishers Weekly (review of Separations)

"Separations is a complete triumph. Bontempelli's work prefigured the magic realism popularized by many Latin American writers, andSeparations is an excellent example of this style. Elegant, superbly crafted, and masterfully written, these tales are not easily forgotten; the heroines are haunting and the plots finely honed. Bontempelli is truly a 'fantastic' writer."—Library Journal (review of Separations)

A protégé of Pirandello, Massimo Bontempelli (1878–1960) was a prolific writer of poetry, plays, and prose fiction. Bontempelli now occupies a major place in 20th century Italian letters, and his works are translated in every major European language.

Sergio Tofano, also known as STO, was an Italian illustrator, actor, director, and playwright. For fifty years his illustrated work appeared in the children's supplement of Corriere della Sera, one of the oldest and most widely read newspapers in Italy.

Estelle Gilson's translation of Umberto Saba's Stories and Recollections won both the Italo Calvino and PEN Renato Poggioli awards, and the MLA's first Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione award in 1994 as the best literary translation of the previous two years. Her fiction, essays, and articles appear in many publications. She translated Bontempelli's Separations.


"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Massimo Bontempelli was a prolific writer of poetry, plays, and novels who coined the term "magical realism." For The Faithful Lover, he won Italy's highest literary award, the Premio Strega. Bontempelli now occupies a major place in 20th century Italian letters, and his writings have been translated into many languages. Gilson's translation of Umberto Saba's "Stories and Recollection" won both the Italo Calvino and PEN Renato Poggioli awards, and the MLA's first Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione award in 1994 as the best literary translation of the previous two years. Her fiction, essays and articles appear in many publications. She previously translated Bontempelli's "Separations" (McPherson, 2004).

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:


Chapter 1: When This Story Took Place

I never could learn to play chess.

Chess lovers say that this is a serious defect. They say that people who can't play chess can't think clearly, people who can't think clearly can't cope with life's problems, and people who can't cope with life's problems are good-for-nothings destined to suffer misery, etcetera.

Nevertheless, there are some chess enthusiasts who are fond of me and who can't accept the fact that I haven't learned to play, so they keep trying to teach me. Then when I don't learn, they get very upset and say things like, "I just can't understand how on earth you, a basically rational person, who can cope with problems and who's not a good-for-nothing, can't learn how to play chess. It's as if chess unnerves you."

I don't answer, but I know that without realizing it, they've got it right. Chess unnerves me. Because even though I don't play, once in my life (only once, and this is the moment to tell about it), I had a long and complicated "to do" with a chess set. It happened when I was ten years old.

Of course, that was several, in fact, many years ago. How many? Readers who want to know can easily do the arithmetic. Just put down my present age, write the number 10 underneath it, and subtract.

The answer will show that I was ten years old a few years before the First World War broke out in Europe, and that's all that counts. Whatever event one talks about, the important thing to know is whether it took place before the war or after it. A little sooner or a little later makes no difference.

Chapter 2: Explanation of the Title

So, on a day before that European war began--precisely when I was ten years old--I was locked alone in a certain room. There's no need to explain why I'd been locked in that room, all the more because I don't remember. There are mishaps that can befall any ten-year-old. Sometimes, mishaps occur even to people who are much older, and those, of course, are more serious matters. But this time the matter wasn't serious. In fact that's exactly why I don't remember the reason for my confinement, which, to set things straight right now, lasted only a few hours.

Locking me into that room, they said, "And don't come out until we let you out."

"Oh sure," I thought, "if they don't come and unlock the door, how could I get out?"

Then they said, "And be careful with that mirror. It's not there to be broken."

That's because the room contained a large mirror leaning against a wall, with its bottom edge resting across the flat surface of a mantelpiece. (This second piece of advice also seemed rather superfluous to me, because everyone, even ten-year-olds, know that mirrors aren't made to be broken.)

There was a third and last warning. "And don't touch that chess set."

And in fact, on the surface of the mantelpiece I mentioned, there was a chessboard with all its pieces, black and white, set out in their proper squares. Thirty-two pieces, because as everyone surely knows, there are thirty-two chess pieces--the same number as a person's teeth.

The chessboard, having been placed on the mantelpiece, was thus in front of the mirror. So there you have it--right away, in the second chapter--the reason for the title of this story.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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Book Description Paul Dry Books, United States, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. This whimsical Italian fantasy, originally published in 1922, belongs on the shelf next to The Little Prince and Alice and Wonderland. Simple language by translator Gilson gives the novel a poetic tone, while STO s charming black-and-white illustrations add humor. --VOYA Alone in a room with nothing but an old mirror and a chess set, a young boy anticipates a boring afternoon. But like Alice just before she fell down the rabbit hole--and wound up in Wonderland--this boy is about to embark on a marvelous adventure. Gazing at the mirror, he discovers that the chess pieces (the reflections, not the real ones) are alive! When the White King invites him into the world on the other side, the excitement begins. There, all the rules of the real world are reversed. There, you can have a perfectly reasonable conversation with a perfectly unreasonable chess piece. There, you can meet anyone who s ever looked into the mirror (even a hundred years ago). This bewildering experience leads to some odd questions: What goes on inside a mirror when no one is looking at it? What if the reflected world is more real than the one where we live? And speaking of our world, how will our hero get back to this side of the mirror? Join him on his fantastic journey where nothing is more absurd than reason or more important than freedom of imagination. [A] story told in a voice that s charmingly direct, sweetly self-referential.and more than a little trippy.Like all good books for children, it also has unusual insights into childhood itself: .when you re ten years old, standing or sitting are exactly the same. --Philadelphia Inquirer The narrator s dry wit, reminiscent of P. G. Wodehouse, makes for an appealing journey and, coupled with the whimsical pen-and-ink drawings, a charming package with a timeless air. --Publishers Weekly Motherhood is the theme of these two intimate novellas by Italian writer Bontempelli, who preceded such better-known authors of magic realism as Jorge Luis Borges and Alejo Carpentier by more than two decades in his fusion of the miraculous and the matter-of-fact.The elegantly restrained passion of these two tales, penned in Bontempelli s delicate prose, proves yet again the writer s literary genius. --Publishers Weekly (review of Separations) Separations is a complete triumph. Bontempelli s work prefigured the magic realism popularized by many Latin American writers, andSeparations is an excellent example of this style. Elegant, superbly crafted, and masterfully written, these tales are not easily forgotten; the heroines are haunting and the plots finely honed. Bontempelli is truly a fantastic writer. --Library Journal (review of Separations) A protege of Pirandello, Massimo Bontempelli (1878-1960) was a prolific writer of poetry, plays, and prose fiction. Bontempelli now occupies a major place in 20th century Italian letters, and his works are translated in every major European language. Sergio Tofano, also known as STO, was an Italian illustrator, actor, director, and playwright. For fifty years his illustrated work appeared in the children s supplement of Corriere della Sera, one of the oldest and most widely read newspapers in Italy. Estelle Gilson s translation of Umberto Saba s Stories and Recollections won both the Italo Calvino and PEN Renato Poggioli awards, and the MLA s first Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione award in 1994 as the best literary translation of the previous two years. Her fiction, essays, and articles appear in many publications. She translated Bontempelli s Separations. Bookseller Inventory # BTE9781589880313

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