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The Chessmaster & His Moves
Raja Rao The Chessmaster & His Moves : Raja Rao : Vision Books : Book (ISBN: 8170944783)
Pages: 736
Price: Rs. 395
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 8170944783
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The Chessmaster and His Moves is a most ambitious novel, and like most of Raja Rao’s writing, rooted in Indian tradition, thought and sensibility.

At one level The Chessmaster is the story of an impossible love between Sivarama Sastri, an Indian mathematician working in Paris, and a married woman which can only end in sorrow and despair. To come to terms with its impossibility, the protaganists turn inward in their search for answer and meaning, transforming the book into a metaphysical exploration. Amidst this search, each and every act, big or seemingly small, gets imbued with special meaning. Sastri’s love for the French actress, Suzanne Chantereux, or her beguiling, effervescent compatriot Mireille, for instance, serves to underline the differences between the East and West; while the latter seeks happiness in the world, Sastri is looking for freedom from the world itself.

The Chessmaster is rich: in language, plot, in complexity, too, it is rich. And rich in locale and in its large cast of memorable characters; Indian, European, African and Jewish. By turns tender, tragic, sensuous — or filled with laughter and delight — the book nevertheless remains utterly serious, concerned with the author’s abstract search for the Absolute. Grand in sweep and range, and functioning at multiple levels, the story moves from France to London, and on to the Himalayas and Bengal and contains, perhaps for the first time ever in a literary work, a dialogue between a Brahmin and a Rabbi: an exploration of reasons for Holocaust and an attempt to expiate it.


"Chessmaster is an ouevre which evaluates, situates a period on many levels — a major work"  —Kathleen Raine in Temenos, London

“It is to masters like Proust and Joyce that we must turn for a writer of comparable stature ... a metaphysical novel without equal in our time.”  —R Parathasarathy

“Offers perhaps the broadest, deepest internationalism in fiction and enables fiction to catch up with life.”  —Edwin Thumboo in World Literature Today, USA

Raja Rao

Raja Rao has long been recognised as "a major novelist of our age." His five earlier novels — Kanthapura (1932), The Serpent and the Rope (1960), The Cat and Shakespeare (1965), Comrade Kirillov (1976) and The Chessmaster and His Moves (1988) — and three collections of short stories — The Cow of the Barricades and Other Stories (1947), The Policeman and the Rose (1978) and On the Ganga Ghat (1989) — won wide and exceptional international acclaim.

Raja Rao was awarded the 1988 Neustadt International Prize for Literature which is given every two years to outstanding world writers. Earlier, The Serpent and the Rope won the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award, India's highest literary honour. More recently, Raja Rao was elected a Fellow of the Sahitya Akademi.

Born in Mysore in 1909, Raja Rao went to Europe at the age of nineteen, researching in literature at the University of Montpellier and at the Sorbonne. He wrote and published his first stories in French and English. After living in France for a number of years, Raja Rao moved to the US where he taught at the University of Austin, Texas.

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