Stefan Zweig - biography
Stefan Zweig (November 28, 1881 – February 22, 1942) was an Austrian novelist, playwright, journalist and biographer. At the height of his literary career, in the 1920s and 1930s, he was one of the most famous writers in the world.
Zweig was the son of Moritz Zweig (1845–1926), a wealthy Jewish textile manufacturer, and Ida Brettauer (1854–1938), from a Jewish banking family. Joseph Brettauer did business for twenty years in Ancona, Italy, where his second daughter Ida was born and grew up, too. Zweig studied philosophy at the university of Vienna and in 1904 earned a doctoral degree with a thesis on "The Philosophy of Hippolyte Taine". Religion did not play a central role in his education. "My mother and father were Jewish only through accident of birth", Zweig said later in an interview. Yet he did not renounce his Jewish faith and wrote repeatedly on Jewish themes. Although his essays were published in the Neue Freie Presse, whose literary editor was the Zionist leader Theodor Herzl, Zweig was not attracted to Herzl's Jewish nationalism. Stefan Zweig was related to the Czech writer Egon Hostovský. Hostovský described Zweig as "a very distant relative"; some sources describe them as cousins. In the First World War Zweig served in the Archives of the Ministry of War, and soon acquired a pacifist stand like his friend Romain Rolland, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature 1915. Zweig remained pacifist all his life and advocated the unification of Europe. Like Rolland, he wrote many biographies. His Erasmus of Rotterdam he called a "concealed self-portrayal" in The World of Yesterday. Zweig fled Austria in 1934, following Hitler's rise to power in Germany. He then lived in England (in London and from 1939 in Bath) before moving to the United States in 1940. In 1941 he went to Brazil, where in 1942 he and his second wife Charlotte Elisabeth Altmann committed suicide together in Petrópolis. He had been despairing at the future of Europe and its culture. "I think it better to conclude in good time and in erect bearing a life in which intellectual labour meant the purest joy and personal freedom the highest good on Earth", he wrote.
Zweig was a very prominent writer in the 1920s and 1930s. He was extremely popular in the USA, South America and Europe, and remains so in continental Europe; however, he was largely ignored by the British public, and his fame in America has since dwindled. Since the 1990s there has been an effort on the part of several publishers (notably Pushkin Press and New York Review of Books) to get Zweig back into print in English.
Criticism over his oeuvre is severely divided between some English-speaking critics, who despise his literary style as poor, lightweight and superficial, and some of those more attached to the European tradition, who praise his humanism, simplicity and effective style.
Zweig is best known for his novellas (notably The Royal Game, Amok, Letter from an Unknown Woman – filmed in 1948 by Max Ophuls), novels (Beware of Pity, Confusion of Feelings, and the posthumously published The Post Office Girl) and biographies (notably Erasmus of Rotterdam, Conqueror of the Seas: The Story of Magellan, and Mary, Queen of Scotland and the Isles and also posthumously published, Balzac). At one time his works were published in English under the pseudonym 'Stephen Branch' (a translation of his real name) when anti-German sentiment was running high. His biography of Queen Marie-Antoinette was later adapted for a Hollywood movie, starring the actress Norma Shearer in the title role.
Zweig enjoyed a close association with Richard Strauss, and provided the libretto for Die schweigsame Frau (The Silent Woman). Strauss famously defied the Nazi regime by refusing to sanction the removal of Zweig's name from the program for the work's première on June 24, 1935 in Dresden. As a result, Goebbels refused to attend as planned, and the opera was banned after three performances. Zweig later collaborated with Joseph Gregor, to provide Strauss with the libretto for one other opera, Daphne, in 1937. At least one other work by Zweig received a musical setting: the pianist and composer Henry Jolles, who like Zweig had fled to Brazil to escape the Nazis, composed a song, "Último poema de Stefan Zweig", based on "Letztes Gedicht", which Zweig wrote on the occasion of his 60th birthday in November 1941.
There are important Zweig collections at the British Library and at the State University of New York at Fredonia. The British Library's Zweig Music Collection was donated to the library by his heirs in May 1986. It specialises in autograph music manuscripts, including works by Bach, Haydn, Wagner, and Mahler. It has been described as "one of the world's greatest collections of autograph manuscripts". One particularly precious item is Mozart's "Verzeichnüß aller meiner Werke" – that is, the composer's own handwritten thematic catalogue of his works.
- The Love of Erika Ewald, 1904 (Original title: Die Liebe der Erika Ewald)
- Burning Secret, 1913 (Original title: Brennendes Geheimnis)
- Letter from an Unknown Woman, 1922 (Original title: Brief einer Unbekannten) – novella
- Amok, 1922 (Original title: Amok) – novella, initially published with several others in Amok. Novellen einer Leidenschaft
- Fear, 1925 (Original title: Angst. Novelle)
- The Eyes of My Brother, Forever, 1925 (Original title: Die Augen des ewigen Bruders)
- The Invisible Collection see Collected Stories below, (Original title: Die *Unsichtbare Sammlung, first published in book form in 'Insel-Almanach auf das Jahr 1927)
- The Refugee, 1927 (Original title: Der Flüchtling. Episode vom Genfer See).
- Confusion of Feelings or Confusion: The Private Papers of Privy Councillor R. Von D, 1927 (Original title: Verwirrung der Gefühle) – novella initially published in the volume Verwirrung der Gefühle: Drei Novellen
- Twenty-Four Hours in the Life of a Woman, 1927 (Original title: Vierundzwanzig Stunden aus dem Leben einer Frau) – novella initially published in the volume *Verwirrung der Gefühle: Drei Novellen
- Short stories, 1930 (Original title: Kleine Chronik. Vier Erzählungen) – includes Buchmendel
- Collected Stories, 1936 (Original title: Gesammelte Erzählungen) – two volumes of short stories:
- 1. The Chains (Original title: Die Kette)
- 2. Kaleidoscope (Original title: Kaleidoskop). Includes: Casual Knowledge of a Craft, Leporella, Fear, Burning Secret, Summer Novella, The Governess, Buchmendel, *The Refugee, The Invisible Collection, Fantastic Night and Moonbeam Alley
Beware of Pity, 1939 (Original title: Ungeduld des Herzens) novel
- The Royal Game or Chess Story (Original title: Schachnovelle; Buenos Aires, 1942) – novella written in 1938–41, published posthumously
- Clarissa, 1981 unfinished novel, published posthumously
- The Post Office Girl, 1982 (Original title: Rausch der Verwandlung. Roman aus dem Nachlaß; The Intoxication of Metamorphosis) – unfinished novel, published posthumously, and in 2008 for the first time in English.
Biographies and historical texts
- Béatrice Gonzalés-Vangell, Kaddish et Renaissance, La Shoah dans les romans viennois de Schindel, Menasse et Rabinovici, Septentrion, Valenciennes, 2005, 348 pages.
- Emile Verhaeren, 1910
- Three Masters: Balzac, Dickens, Dostoeffsky, 1920 (Original title: Drei Meister. Balzac – Dickens – Dostojewski)
- Romain Rolland. The Man and His Works, 1921 (Original title: Romain Rolland. Der Mann und das Werk)
- Nietzsche, 1925 (Originally published in the volume titled: Der Kampf mit dem Dämon. Hölderlin – Kleist – Nietzsche)
- Decisive Moments in History, 1927 (Original title: Sternstunden der Menschheit)
- Adepts in Self-Portraiture: Casanova, Stendhal, Tolstoy, 1928 (Original title: Drei Dichter ihres Lebens. Casanova – Stendhal – Tolstoi)
- Joseph Fouché, 1929 (Original title: Joseph Fouché. Bildnis eines politischen Menschen)
- Mental Healers: Franz Mesmer, Mary Baker Eddy, Sigmund Freud, 1932 (Original title: *Die Heilung durch den Geist. Mesmer, Mary Baker-Eddy, Freud)
- Marie Antoinette: The Portrait of an Average Woman, 1932 (Original title: Marie Antoinette. Bildnis eines mittleren Charakters) ISBN 4-87187-855-4
- Erasmus of Rotterdam, 1934 (Original title: Triumph und Tragik des Erasmus von Rotterdam)
- Mary, Queen of Scotland and the Isles or The Queen of Scots, 1935 (Original title: Maria Stuart) ISBN 4-87187-858-9
- The Right to Heresy: Castellio against Calvin, 1936 (Original title: Castellio gegen Calvin oder Ein Gewissen gegen die Gewalt)
- Conqueror of the Seas: The Story of Magellan, 1938 (Original title: Magellan. Der Mann und seine Tat) ISBN 4-87187-856-2
- Amerigo, 1944 (Original title: Amerigo. Geschichte eines historischen Irrtums) – written in 1942, published the day before he died ISBN 4-87187-857-0
- Balzac, 1946 – written, as Richard Friedenthal describes in a postscript, by Zweig in the Brazilian summer capital of Petrópolis, without access to the files, notebooks, lists, tables, editions and monographs that Zweig accumulated for many years and that he took with him to Bath, but that he left behind when he went to America. Friedenthal wrote that Balzac "was to be his magnum opus, and he had been working at it for ten years. It was to be a summing up of his own experience as an author and of what life had taught him." Friedenthal claimed that "The book had been finished", though not every chapter was complete; he used a working copy of the manuscript Zweig left behind him to apply "the finishing touches", and Friedenthal rewrote the final chapters (Balzac, translated by William and Dorothy Rose [New York: Viking, 1946], pp. 399, 402).
- Tersites, 1907 (Original title: Tersites)
- Das Haus am Meer, 1912
- Jeremiah, 1917 (Original title: Jeremias)
- The World of Yesterday (Original title: Die Welt von Gestern; Stockholm, 1942) – autobiography
- Brazil, Land of the Future (Original title: Brasilien. Ein Land der Zukunft; Bermann-Fischer, Stockholm 1941)