JF Ptak Science Books Post 1128
“The stuff that dreams are made of....” Sam Spade, The Maltese Falcon (1941).
“We are such stuff, As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.” Propsero. The Tempest Act 4, scene 1, 148–158
[This is a chess set that I made of junk and fluff pitting great physicists vs. great mathematicians.]
I’m wondering when it was that chess became more a part of what dreams were made on rather than of, when it became an attainable comfort for mostly everyone rather than a dreampt of thing, unattainable, the stuff courted by only the wealthy and the ruling class.
The game makes its first recorded, written appearance in the West sometime in the 10th century, and had developed as a sort of amanuensis for the upper crust, a theatre of sorts not only for itself but for some of life’s major relations, a platform for the display of relationships, and debates, and all manner of social and personal interactions.
Chess certainly remained out of reach for the vast majority of humans for many centuries, it seems, removed from the hands of common folks, long down the list of things that were once considered luxuries which developed into comforts and then into necessities. I’m not sure when this happens, really, but it seems to come after the introduction of window glazing, fireplace chimneys, stoves, lamps, turned wood furniture, and so on, so on down the list.
Judging from antiquarian engravings and images of interiors of the houses of working folks, looking around the inside of their houses to see what was becoming relatively common comforts and when, I’m guessing that chess begins to make an appearance as a suitable, affordable comfort for the mass of folks by the early 19th century. It may well be among the first appearance of an intellectual game for the masses in the history of comfort.