20. About props
In chapter 19, I called the western a genre with stereotype elements; they are props, stage properties. In my cinema chair I see a parade of props, it is a feast of recognition: there is the sheriff with his prison, the shadow of a cowboy hat, the hot dusty town with its bank and its saloon, simetimes also its paper and it railway, the landscape, the isolated ranch where the cowboy finds shelter, the judge with his gallows. The director of a western will repeat elements from westerns before him, it increases the acknowledgement. In an arbitrary French, Danish or East European movie I find nothing of the props in the western, I am on unknown ground.
Another stereotyp genre is the fairy tale. Everybody can enumerate the props: a witch, a good fay, a wood, a castle, a prince, a princess.
Because of its props, the medieval romance of chivalry is a steretype genre, like the western and the fairy tale it stands outside reality. The Frenchman ‒perhaps a certain Turold‒ who in the 11th c. described in his “Chanson de Roland” tables as a game where the greater part of the knights make pleasure with and who attributed chess to old and therefore wise knights: vs.111 “As tables juent pur els esbaneier / E as eschecs li plus saive et li veill”, certainly drew on the real world. The gaming material in the possession of the distinguished medieval classes point out that they played tables and chess (chapter 13). However, the analysis of the English word checker in chapter 15 proves that chess was far from popular, it was on the contrary played in the shadow of draughts.
To conclude: the man and woman of the Middle Ages who listened to a recited text with a chess metaphor was familiar with the game. But understanding a metaphor is passive, is something else than actively playing chess. The journalists who fill the columns of my (Dutch) newspaper like are mad about metaphors. The hundreds of thousands of readers do understand the stalemate where politicians ended up when they had to form a government in whatever European country, as a consequence of the fragmentation of the politic parties this is becoming more tricky by the day. But are these hundreds of thousands actively playing chess?: no.
20. About props