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Confusion: The Private Papers of Privy Councillor R. von D. (1927)

by Stefan Zweig

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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6671925,411 (4.04)47
In the autumn of his days, a distinguished privy councillor contemplates his past, looking back at the key moments of his life. A reluctant and indolent student, he recalls the chance meeting with a professor and his wife, which leads to his sharing their lodgings. In a flash of revelation, the professor un- locks his thirst for knowledge and an ambiguous and close friendship is formed. But the professor harbours a dark secret which changes and scars both men forever.… (more)
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» See also 47 mentions

English (14)  French (3)  Norwegian (1)  Arabic (1)  All languages (19)
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
In the past couple of decades, Austrian writer Stefan Zweig (1881-1942) has gained a new-found readership in the English-speaking world. This is largely thanks to the impassioned advocacy of a handful of independent publishing houses. Foremost amongst these is Pushkin Press, which has published most of Zweig's work in new translations, the majority of them by award-winning translator Anthea Bell.

Zweig enjoyed great popularity during his lifetime and this led some critics to dismiss his works as facile and superficial. His novella Confusion should put such criticism to rest. The premise of the work is admittedly simple - a Privy Councillor who has dedicated his life to academia recalls the aging professor who, in his student days, kindled in him a love for learning. The (then) student’s instant and obsessive admiration for his teacher led him to take up lodgings in the same building where the professor lived with his young wife, and to assume the role of amanuensis/disciple to the older man. The novella effectively projects and dissects the “confusion of feelings” which this awkward triangular relationship gives rise to. Zweig’s interest in psychology, especially of the Freudian stamp, is evident in this novel’s insightful exploration of the mind-set of its characters and in the suppressed eroticism implied by words said and unsaid.

I have elsewhere commented on my impression of Zweig as a “nostalgic” adrift in a rapidly changing world ( https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1673924203 ) This 1927 novella is, however, very much of its time – not only in its psychological concerns, but also in its head-on approach to (what must then have been) a taboo subject. If there is a harkening back to the 19th Century, it is in its rather overblown, melodramatic language – this, however, lends authenticity to the voice of the narrator who is, after all, an academic who has devoted his life to the study of past literature.

This paperback edition of Confusion (in Anthea Bell’s brilliant translation) forms part of the attractively presented (and temptingly collectible) Pushkin Collection series. ( )
  JosephCamilleri | Sep 12, 2020 |
This novella explores the relationship between a young university student and his professor. The student is completely enamored of this professor's ideas and life and the professor quickly adopts him in return. He finds a flat in the same boarding house and starts spending every day with the Professor and his young wife. This novella captures a brief time period, probably only one semester, and is intense and dramatic.

I enjoyed this, but sometimes when I read a novel of this length I leave unsatisfied. I feel like there was more that could have been explored here. There's no denying, though, that Zweig's writing is excellent. ( )
  japaul22 | Nov 12, 2019 |
In the past couple of decades, Austrian writer Stefan Zweig (1881-1942) has gained a new-found readership in the English-speaking world. This is largely thanks to the impassioned advocacy of a handful of independent publishing houses. Foremost amongst these is Pushkin Press, which has published most of Zweig's work in new translations, the majority of them by award-winning translator Anthea Bell.

Zweig enjoyed great popularity during his lifetime and this led some critics to dismiss his works as facile and superficial. His novella Confusion should put such criticism to rest. The premise of the work is admittedly simple - a Privy Councillor who has dedicated his life to academia recalls the aging professor who, in his student days, kindled in him a love for learning. The (then) student’s instant and obsessive admiration for his teacher led him to take up lodgings in the same building where the professor lived with his young wife, and to assume the role of amanuensis/disciple to the older man. The novella effectively projects and dissects the “confusion of feelings” which this awkward triangular relationship gives rise to. Zweig’s interest in psychology, especially of the Freudian stamp, is evident in this novel’s insightful exploration of the mind-set of its characters and in the suppressed eroticism implied by words said and unsaid.

I have elsewhere commented on my impression of Zweig as a “nostalgic” adrift in a rapidly changing world ( https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1743472887 ) This 1927 novella is, however, very much of its time – not only in its psychological concerns, but also in its head-on approach to (what must then have been) a taboo subject. If there is a harkening back to the 19th Century, it is in its rather overblown, melodramatic language – this, however, lends authenticity to the voice of the narrator who is, after all, an academic who has devoted his life to the study of past literature.

This paperback edition of Confusion (in Anthea Bell’s brilliant translation) forms part of the attractively presented (and temptingly collectible) Pushkin Collection series. ( )
  JosephCamilleri | Sep 25, 2016 |
Книга об отрочестве, юношеской страсти... К профессору и обучению.
Написано очень живо, красочно, местами слишком поэтично. Как всегда тонко психологически подмечены моменты проведения и переживания.

но это все на первый взгляд))
далее сюжет развивается весьма интересно и затронутая тема очень тонка и чувствительна. На мой взгляд слишком много воды и утонченности в этом произведении. Как говориться, тема сисек не раскрыта. Слишком многое остается туманным, позволяет читателю домысливать. Уж слишком пикантная и волнующая тема для автора. Такое вот мое скромное мнение. Читать стоит. Однозначно) ( )
  Billy.Jhon | Apr 25, 2016 |
Découverte pour moi de S Sweig!
Assez impressionnant,! je comprends l'importance de l'écrivain, j'apprécie aussi le pouvoir, la compréhension, le courage, de l'auteur.
Il y a là des pages fortes, des personnages forts, des moments forts sur les liens tendus entre les humains, sur les tentatives de rapprochement, sur les échecs aussi.
Malgré le passage du temps je suis impressionné par la puissance des sentiments! ( )
  Gerardlionel | Apr 1, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Zweig, Stefanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bell, AntheaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Einar NessTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In the autumn of his days, a distinguished privy councillor contemplates his past, looking back at the key moments of his life. A reluctant and indolent student, he recalls the chance meeting with a professor and his wife, which leads to his sharing their lodgings. In a flash of revelation, the professor un- locks his thirst for knowledge and an ambiguous and close friendship is formed. But the professor harbours a dark secret which changes and scars both men forever.

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À l'occasion de son soixantième anniversaire, R. de D., professeur de philologie, reçoit de la part de ses élèves et collègues un livre d'hommage, relation a priori exhaustive de l'intégralité de ses œuvres, articles et discours. Il y manque pourtant la clé de voûte de son parcours intellectuel, l'événement de sa jeunesse qu'il garde secrètement enfoui au plus profond de lui-même : la rencontre décisive d'un homme, un professeur, qui a naguère suscité en lui enthousiasme et admiration. Il entreprend alors de rédiger des "notes intimes", dans lesquelles il retrace sa vie de jeune étudiant, de ses années de libertinage à son attachement exalté pour son maître, avec lequel il noue une relation faite de souffrances et de confusion. À l'époque, il ne s'aperçut pas du glissement insensible que prirent leurs rencontres, jusqu'au jour où le vieux pédagogue lui livra un brûlant secret…
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