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Stefan Zweig and World Literature

Stefan Zweig and World Literature: Twenty-First Century Perspectives

Birger Vanwesenbeeck
Mark H. Gelber
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 294
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  • Book Info
    Stefan Zweig and World Literature
    Book Description:

    The twenty-first century has seen a renewed surge of cultural and critical interest in the works of the Austrian-Jewish author Stefan Zweig (1881-1942), who was among the most-read and -acclaimed authors worldwide in the 1920s and 1930s but after 1945 fell into critical disfavor and relative obscurity. The resurgence in interest in Zweig and his works is attested to by, among other things, new English translations and editions of his works; a Brazilian motion picture and a best-selling French novel about his final days; and a renewed debate surrounding the literary quality of his work in the London Review of Books. This global return to Zweig calls for a critical reassessment of his legacy and works, which the current collection of essays provides by approaching them from a global perspective as opposed to the narrow European focus through which they have been traditionally approached. Together, the introduction and twelve essays engage the totality of Zweig's published and unpublished works from his drama and his fiction to his letters and his biographies, and from his literary and art criticism to his autobiography. Contributors: Jeffrey B. Berlin, Richard Benson, Darién J. Davis, Marlen Eckl, Mark H. Gelber, Robert Kelz, Klemens Renoldner, Birger Vanwesenbeeck, John Warren, Klaus Weissenberger, Robert Weldon Whalen, Geoffrey Winthrop-Young. Birger Vanwesenbeeck is Assistant Professor of English at the State University of New York-Fredonia. Mark H. Gelber is Professor of German at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-425-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History, Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xi)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)
    Birger Vanwesenbeeck and Mark H. Gelber

    Quo usque tandem abutere, Stefan Zweig, patientia nostra?How much longer, Stefan Zweig, will you be testing our patience? This well-known opening question from Cicero’sIn Catilinamorations (63 BCE), addressed not to Stefan Zweig, but to the Roman senator Catiline, may serve as a model for the exasperation and indignation that the name Stefan Zweig continues to inspire in certain literary and intellectual circles.¹ Mockingly referred to in his lifetime as “Erwerbszweig” (commercial branch) and famously attacked by Hannah Arendt for his apparent refusal to articulate political opinions in public,² Zweig has, perhaps more than any other modern writer,...

  6. Part I. Reception

    • 1: A Stefan Zweig Revival?
      (pp. 15-32)
      Birger Vanwesenbeeck

      The first decade of the twenty-first century has witnessed a resurgence of cultural and critical interest in the works of Stefan Zweig (1881–1942). With the appearance of new English translations, along with two recent biographies, several motion pictures, and a bestselling French novel about his final days, renewed debate within the English-speaking world regarding the literary value of his work has been vigorous, and this calls for a critical reassessment of his legacy and works.¹ Known in his time as perhaps the most translated serious author in the world and as a generous advisor cum networking agent for aspiring...

  7. Part II. Drama and Fiction

    • 2: Stefan Zweig’s Drama Jeremias in Context
      (pp. 35-55)
      John Warren

      It makes sense to reconsider Stefan Zweig’s place as a dramatist in the history of interwar German drama because literary criticism, from Bernhard Diebold onward, has not dealt kindly with Zweig’s drama.¹ Indeed, few critics writing of German drama between the wars mention him at all. There is only one book devoted to Zweig’s drama, by the French critic Robert Dumont.² The article on Austrian drama in a recent compendium of essays on twentieth-century Austrian literature is symptomatic of the continued lack of interest in Zweig’s drama elsewhere: it contains but two brief references to the dramaJeremias(Jeremiah, 1920)...

    • 3: “That Voice in the Darkness!”: Technologies of the Tropical Talking Cure in Stefan Zweig’s Der Amokläufer and Verwirrung der Gefühle
      (pp. 56-73)
      Geoffrey Winthrop-Young

      The following reading of Stefan Zweig’s novellasDer Amokläufer(“Amok,” 1922) andVerwirrung der Gefühle(“Confusion,” 1927) attempts to tackle a question related to the intermedial dynamics of modernism.¹ The decades between the early 1880s and the late 1920s saw the appearance of numerous literary texts dealing with—and at times obsessing over—new sound recording and storage devices such as the phonograph and the gramophone. There are lesser-known texts by well-known authors (Arthur Conan Doyle’s non-Sherlock Holmes stories “The Voice of Science” and “The Japanned Box,” or Jules Verne’s truly McLuhanesque media novelThe Carpathian Castle); there are famous...

    • 4: Narrating Alterity: Stefan Zweig, Emmanuel Levinas, and the Trauma of Redemption
      (pp. 74-90)
      Robert Weldon Whalen

      Gerontophagy is the fate which awaits the illustrious dead. It is, as historian C. Vann Woodward explains, the “primitive ritual of eating one’s elders.”¹ What Woodward is referring to is the sort of symbolic mastication we inflict on politicians, public figures, and artists after their deaths. Today’s celebrities are tomorrow’s dinner; we gnaw at their every flaw, and when we’re sated, there often isn’t much left. Consider, for example, the fate of Stefan Zweig.

      In the years between wars, Stefan Zweig was one of the world’s most popular authors. Since his death in 1942, though, his reputation has endured repeated...

  8. Part III. Criticism and Essays

    • 5: Stefan Zweig and the Concept of World Literature
      (pp. 93-107)
      Mark H. Gelber

      The gap in time between Stefan Zweig’s 1942 suicide and the present provides us with the possibility of attaining a fair vantage point for an assessment of his contribution to “world literature.” Before doing so, however, it will be important to delimit a workable concept of world literature which can be utilized for this analysis. In the first part, which is the bulk of this essay, it is important to describe and measure Zweig’s contribution to world literature as it was registered or acknowledged during his lifetime. The time frame extends from the date of his first publications at the...

    • 6: Landscape, “Heimat,” and Artistic Production: Stefan Zweig’s Introduction to E. M. Lilien: Sein Werk
      (pp. 108-121)
      Richard V. Benson

      Ephraim Moses Lilien was not yet thirty years old when a monograph appeared chronicling his work and celebrating him as one of the greatest artists to emerge during a period of cultural renaissance among European Jews. This 1903 monograph, titledE. M. Lilien: Sein Werk, mit einer Einleitung von Stefan Zweig(E. M. Lilien: His Work, with an Introduction by Stefan Zweig, 1903) included an introductory essay by an even younger Stefan Zweig along with reproductions of bookplates, drawings, and book and magazine illustrations spanning Lilien’s career up to that point.¹ In his introductory essay, Zweig detailed major stations in...

    • 7: Stefan Zweig’s Non-fictional Prose in Exile: Mastery of the European Genre of “Kunstprosa”
      (pp. 122-152)
      Klaus Weissenberger

      The term “Kunstprosa” has not been widely recognized as an established literary term in English and American literary criticism. A brief definition is thus necessary. The term comes very close to Stephen Minot’s classification of “literary non-fiction” as the “fourth genre,” constituted by the following three criteria: (a) it refers to real events, persons, and places; (b) it reflects a specific interest in language; and (c) it manifests a tendency to be more informal and personal than other non-fictional forms. Minot derives these criteria from teaching creative writing courses. For that reason he excludes the historical and systematic aspects, as...

  9. Part IV. Politics and Exile

    • 8: True to Himself: Stefan Zweig’s Visit to Argentina in September 1936
      (pp. 155-172)
      Robert Kelz

      The very first lines of one of Stefan Zweig’s most famous works,Schachnovelle(“The Royal Game,” 1942), set the novella on a steamer en route to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Twice, in 1936 and 1940, Stefan Zweig himself arrived in the Argentine capital on board an international passenger ship. Argentina, however, has always played second fiddle to Brazil in scholarship on Stefan Zweig, and his relationship to this country remains an underexplored topic. In part this tendency is reflective of the writer’s own views. From the very start Zweig himself preferred Brazil to its southerly neighbor and, over time, he developed...

    • 9: Exile and Liminality in “A Land of the Future”: Charlotte and Stefan Zweig in Brazil, August 1941–March 1942
      (pp. 173-190)
      Darién J. Davis

      To thousands of Jewish immigrants fleeing Europe during the Second World War, Brazil seemed a welcoming social utopia and a peaceful respite from chaos. The country’s tropical warmth and its apparent racial and religious tolerance served as a stark contrast to the ravages of war and the official anti-Semitism rampant in Germany and other European nations at the time.¹ Stefan Zweig and his second wife Lotte Zweig (née Charlotte Altmann) had already expressed their positive views about Brazil in letters to family and friends in Europe during their first trip to South America together in 1940. In a letter to...

    • 10: Stefan Zweig’s Concept of Brazil in the Context of German-Jewish Emigration
      (pp. 191-212)
      Marlen Eckl

      The above sentences are not quoted from Stefan Zweig’sBrasilien: Ein Land der Zukunft (Brazil: A Land of the Future, 1941). Amerigo Vespucci made this statement in a letter to his friend and client Lorenzo de Medici. Since Brazil’s discovery by European voyagers in April 1500, this land has been as intrinsically linked to the Garden of Eden as it has been believed to be the promise of a great future. Almost from the start, an image of Brazilian society which emphasized its highly cordial and hospitable nature, as well as its apparently harmonious multi-racial society was promoted. These notions...

    • 11: Stefan Zweig: Life in Cities of Exile
      (pp. 213-223)
      Klemens Renoldner

      “[A]lles hängt jetzt von der Neuen Welt ab” (from now on everything will depend upon the New World). Stefan Zweig wrote this line in mid-June 1940 to his friend, writer and translator Joseph Leftwich, who was living in London.¹ Zweig wanted to explain to him why he had hesitated so long to leave England. He made it clear that he had now finally decided to make the journey to New York and from there go on to Latin America. He informed his friend that he hoped to be back in Great Britain by the end of October. But the farewell...

    • 12: The Writer’s Political Obligations in Exile: The Case of Stefan Zweig
      (pp. 224-256)
      Jeffrey B. Berlin

      The purpose of this essay is to discuss Stefan Zweig’s characterization of the zeitgeist in Europe in the 1930s and early 1940s, and especially the still controversial issue regarding whether or not he had an ethical and personal obligation to voice his opinions regarding political matters before and after he willingly became an émigré in Great Britain.² This context also prompts consideration of the socio-political and literary-historical position advanced during these turbulent times by other prominent Austrian and German intellectual émigrés,³ including Hannah Arendt, Klaus Mann, Thomas Mann, Joseph Roth, Felix Salten, Ernst Toller, Arnold Zweig, and Ernst Weiss. What...

  10. Notes on the Contributors
    (pp. 257-258)
  11. Index
    (pp. 259-266)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 267-267)