Saturday, September 17, 2011

Morphy Mania

Photo credit: A.P.
Occasionally, as readers of this blog know, I comment on chess matters unrelted to Jews. By sheer chance, I found -- thrown away from a public library -- a copy of The Chess Players by Frances Parkinson Keyes, a prolific American author. It is an historical novel with the main male character being Paul Morphy as a Confederate spy in Europe. Keyes actually purchased Morphy's old house in the 1950s (see link above).

Apparently some authors relied on this novel for factual information about Morphy, e.g., relaying as fact the novel's claim that he was rejected as a suitor because he was "a mere chess player". Keyes is hardly to be faulted for this -- her book is openly historical fiction, not fact. This is the equivalent of relying on Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code when writing the history of the Catholic Church. (H'm -- on second thought, some people do that, too...)

Another more recent novel which deals with the same theme is Paul Morphy: Confederate Spy by Stan Vaughan, whose home page makes some rather odd claims, presuming he is serious and not pulling our collective leg.

What is it about Morphy that attracts such oddness?

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