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Beware of Pity by Stefan Zweig
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Beware of Pity (1939)

by Stefan Zweig

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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7492612,418 (4.26)116
  1. 00
    Fosca by I.U. Tarchetti (bluepiano)
    bluepiano: The outlines of these novels are so similar that I rather wonder if Zweig had the earlier novel in mind when writing his. In both a soldier falls into the clutches of and feigns love for an hysterical invalid, and in both a doctor warns the hero that ending the romance would cause his patient's death. Fosca, though to me a bit silly--it's like a parody of a decadent novel with a parody of a romantic hero--is apparently significant in Italian literary history and, moreover, has one of the most hateful villains I've come across. Both books are certainly worth reading.… (more)
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English (16)  French (3)  Spanish (2)  Catalan (2)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (26)
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'that compassionate lie had made her happy, and to make someone happy can never be wrong or a crime',, July 1, 2014

This review is from: Beware of Pity (Kindle Edition)
This is the story of a dashing young Austrian lieutenant, just prior to the first World War. Stationed on the Hungarian border, he is thrilled to be invited to the castle of a wealthy local family, but bemused when his request to the daughter of the house for a dance is greeted by copious weeping. When he discovers his faux pas - she's a cripple - he feels obliged to send her flowers. And thus begins his link to the family - 'my strange case of poisoning of pity'. For as his feelings of duty and honour are taken to mean much more by the lame Edith, the weak and vacillating Lt Hofmiller is torn between shame before his colleagues at the possible match and his desire to do the right thing. As he is warned:

'Pity is a double-edged weapon. If you don't know how to handle it you had better not touch it, and above all you must steel your heart against it. Pity, like morphine, does the sick good only at first...if you don't get the dose right and know where to stop it becomes a murderous poison.'

A brilliantly written novel; like his other work, 'The Post Office Girl', Zweig keeps you reading to the end, uncertain how the story will work out. ( )
  starbox | Jul 1, 2014 |
4.5 à 5 étoiles, pas moins.
C'est un véritable chef d'oeuvre. Zweig nous raconte une histoire bien 'tricotée' qui évoque les sentiments de la pitié.
Ce roman me touche personnellement pour une multitude de raisons. J'étais comme Toni, la pitié m'était dangereuse. Mais quand j'ai quitté mon Edith, elle ne s'est pas suicidée. J'ai pris le risque, et cela m'a libérée.
Je suis du côté d'Anton Hoffmiller, on a beaucoup demandé de lui, et en fin, il s'est donné totalement; mais ce n'était pas juste.
Le style de Zweig est éblouissant. Plein de belle citations, et de belles descriptions dans ce texte. Il a un talent tout à fait remarquable! Je veux lire tous ses autres livres, surtout les inachevés :) ( )
  pathogenik | Mar 2, 2014 |
Before the First World War, Hofmiller, a young Austrian officer from a modest background, finds himself stationed in a town where he knows few people. He scores an invitation to the home of the richest local family and, at the end of the evening, realises he has not spent time with their attractive daughter, Edith. He invites her to dance, but realises – to everyone’s horror – that she is sitting in a wheelchair and can’t even stand. The worst faux pas imaginable, and he flees. But he is given another chance, which he eagerly accepts. To be nice he starts spending more and more time with the family, focusing on Edith, keeping her company – keeping himself company too. Relationships seem almost balanced at first. She’s sweet, if a bit over-eager for his attention. It is the father, though, who compels Hofmiller to involve himself more, to help find treatment for her condition, to lie to her about its effectiveness, to let her believe she has a chance of recovery. It’s all, of course, in the name of keeping her happy. Hofmiller’s eagerness to please, Edith’s father’s eagerness to please – beyond what is practical or real – subtly becomes a ticking bomb of anxiety. Where it naturally leads is to Hofmiller’s proposal of marriage. A good soldier, he will do everything he can. Devastation everywhere. ( )
  jwhenderson | May 14, 2013 |
the story of a young woman who is a paraplegic as the result of a horse riding accident. and she come to know an officer who has cheered her up after she have been depressed after she knew that she has no hope for her recovery.......
very sad story ( )
  ariesblue | Mar 31, 2013 |
The more I read Zweig the more I like his writings. This particular one is a great novel I think. It has a strange beginning- strange because the narrative of the first few pages is ignored in the rest of the novel. It starts as a conversation that a character has with what he thought was a war hero (hero of Austrian army in the 1st world war). The "hero" starts narrating his story and that takes the rest of the book- Zweig never returns to the original character who listened to the story. Kind of strange I thought.

Nonetheless, the bulk of the story is great. Deals with the feelings and anguish of the young lieutenant who gets involved with a wealthy family, particularly with the crippled daughter, out of pity for the young girl. It's a fascinating novel following up on the sentimental dilemmas that the lieutenant has. At the beginning he is taken away by the fact that the family is treating him not as a soldier but as a real human being. His feelings and thoughts are appreciated by them. As the story evolves he is almost carrying two lives- one with the wealthy family, the Kekesfalvas, and the other with his fellow officers in the barracks who know very little about his doings with the Kekesfalvas, other than he apparently eats there every night and treats him well.

But as time goes, he realizes that he is driven by pity for the young girl. Also, the young girl has fallen in love with him, a feeling that he can't correspond. So he is torn by these feelings - loyalty to the family, but also repugnance to himself for taking advantage of them.

This is a great moral story. What is the duty of us humans? Do we only seek our own self-satisfaction or do we sacrifice for others? Especially for those less fortunate who have been dealt an unfair hand. ( )
  xieouyang | Dec 2, 2012 |
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» Add other authors (20 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Zweig, Stefanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bell, AntheaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Blewitt, PhyllisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Blewitt, TrevorTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hirvensalo, LauriTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"To him that hath, to him shall be given." (Introduction)
The whole affair began with a piece of ineptitude, of entirely accidental foolishness, a faux pas, as the French would say.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 190128543X, Paperback)

In 1913 a young second lieutenant discovers the terrible dangers of pity. He had no idea the girl was lame when he asked her to dance - his compensatory afternoon calls relieve his guilt but give her a dangerous glimmer of hope. Stefan Zweig's only novel is a devastatingly unindulgent realization of the torment of the betrayal of both honor and love, realized against the background of the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Stefan Zweig was born in 1881 into a wealthy Viennese Jewish family. He studied at the Universities of Berlin and Vienna and was first known as a poet and translator, then as a biographer. Zweig traveled widely, living in Salzburg, London and New York before settling in Brazil where he and his wife were found dead in 1942.

Also available by Stefan Zweig

The Invisible Collection/Buchmendel

TP $14.00, 1-901285-00-6 CUSA

Casanova - A Study in Self-Portraiture

TP $14.00, 1-901285-18-9 CUSA

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:35:49 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A poignant story in which the conflict between duty and loyalty mixed with desire is impressively conveyed.

» see all 2 descriptions

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