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Burning Secret by Stefan Zweig

Burning Secret (1913)

by Stefan Zweig

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2311050,068 (3.83)38



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Over the past months I've read a number of Zweig's short stories and novellas and I've been struck by a common pattern. Zweig's settings and characters are almost invariably old-world Mitteleuropean but, on the other hand, the author's quasi-Freudian approach to analysing the conflicting emotions of his protagonists is very modern for its time. Zweig was writing against the backdrop of the rapidly changing world of the inter-war years and it seems that his books, with their internal friction between setting and style, reflect a feeling of flux, of being on the cusp of great upheavals, a tug-of-war between the old and the new.

"Burning Secret" is no exception. It tells of a member of the minor aristocracy, "the Baron", who is a guest at an Austrian hotel/sanatorium and who attempts to seduce a beautiful and seemingly well-off woman who is staying there with her twelve-year old son. The Baron at first successfully manipulates the son to get to the mother. The boy however soon realises that he is being used, and although he is still sexually innocent, he realises that the drama unfolding before him is part of a secret adult world to which he has not yet gained access. He spends the rest of the novella playing the "terzo incomodo", as the Italians say, getting a perverse kick out of thwarting the adults' attempts to spend time together.

The book is an often intense coming-of-age novella, a psychological study of an adolescent's roller-coaster of emotions and the mental turmoil which precedes young adulthood. Veteran translator Anthea Bell brilliantly conveys Zweig's highly-charged writing in this attractive Pushkin Collection edition. ( )
  JosephCamilleri | Jan 21, 2017 |
A small but affective novella about how an innocent boy is introduced to the adult word of treachery and lies and how he reconciles himself to that world. I love this author, for me, his words flow so easily and touch something deep within me. ( )
  Judy_Ryfinski | Jan 20, 2016 |
A small but affective novella about how an innocent boy is introduced to the adult word of treachery and lies and how he reconciles himself to that world. I love this author, for me, his words flow so easily and touch something deep within me. ( )
  Judy_Ryfinski | Jan 20, 2016 |
A lonely twelve-year-old boy Edgar, befriended a charming,lady-killer baron.it was some time before the naive Edgar realizes the true motives behind the Baron's kindness and interest, When his adored friend meanly give up on his friendship and turns his seductive attentions to his mother, the boy's jealousy and insecurity feelings of betrayal become uncontrollable, Once Edgar recognizes the truth,he is invaded by new and previously unknown emotions and new behaviors.....
It was painful for that boy, who progresses from his childish dreams into the adult world of Deception ,dishonest and evil in only a few days......

Edgar's mother was at first resistant to the Baron charms......

but after a while she was getting many mixed feelings of regretting having stayed faithful to a husband she never really loved,she is still young ,beautiful and desirable, an urgent choice between maternal and feminine love........her son was her inner voice of conscience...

( )
  ariesblue | Mar 31, 2013 |
This is one of the best novella's I've ever read. A rather simple story of a visitor to a spa who finds himself attracted to a lady visitor and, to get her attention, befriends her young son. Soon after that, the story switches focus to the son, who initially is proud to have such an old friend, then feels betrayed and finally -- in a brilliant ending -- feels he has discovered the Adult's Secret.

I love Zweig's clear prose and it's a shame he isn't more widely read (or more widely translated) as he used to be. ( )
2 vote martijngrooten | Dec 8, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stefan Zweigprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bell, AntheaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The shrill whistle of the locomotive sounded; the train had reached Semmering.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Brennendes Geheimnis
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