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The World of Yesterday by Stefan Zweig
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The World of Yesterday

by Stefan Zweig

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English (19)  Spanish (5)  Dutch (5)  Catalan (4)  French (2)  German (1)  Danish (1)  Hebrew (1)  Norwegian (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (40)
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
The coda at the end of The Grand Budapest Hotel, crediting Stefan Zweig with inspiring the movie, was the first I'd heard of this author, and in reading this book I heard the movie's deadpan voiceover in the sometimes stilted wording of the translation. But unlike the movie there was nothing light or funny about Zweig’s memoir covering the two world wars from his perspective as a Jew in Austria. It was a sadly nostalgic overview of a world in turmoil as culture, morals and even nations shifted and broke apart. This was a hard book to find and I ended up with two English versions: the 1947 Cassell and Company Ltd.’s 4th edition and the University of Nebraska Press’s 2009 translation by Anthea Bell. Both are very readable but I preferred the earlier work because its slightly dated, less fluently translated English gave a truer feel for the time period the book covers. ( )
  wandaly | Jun 30, 2016 |
Interesting, but a little dry. ( )
  Judy_Ryfinski | Jan 20, 2016 |
Interesting, but a little dry. ( )
  Judy_Ryfinski | Jan 20, 2016 |


Stefan Zweig. First Trip to Brazil, 1936.

I enjoyed reading the memoirs of Stefan Zweig and found his eyewitness accounts of life in Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries both fascinating and revealing. He speaks of the stability that older generations had taken for granted becoming unrecognizable during the turbulent decades of World War I and beyond. I’ve always been curious about this period in history, when the arrival of new technology like the automobile, telegraph, and aeroplane pushed the world headfirst into modernity. New forms of art and literature were also being developed that were a radical departure from the past. I felt like Zweig was living a firsthand account of events as they transpired, sharing his best impressions with the reader.

As a writer living in Vienna, Zweig was part of an incredibly rich circle of artists and writers. Amazingly, he shared deep personal friendships with several notable men of the time (Freud, Rilke, Verhaeren, Rodin, and the composer Richard Strauss among others) and brings them into focus through real life anecdotes. He also speaks about the political climate of Europe around the time of the First World War and was witness to the madness that overwhelmed the continent at that time. After the war hyperinflation swept in and ruined Austrian and later German economies, setting the stage for the rise of fascism. Because he was Jewish, when Hitler came to power his work was banned and he was forced into exile, his previous life and accomplishments completely ruined.

As I read this book I found myself growing fond of Stefan Zweig the man, even as he shied away from discussing the more personal aspects of his life (such as his two marriages or discussions of his own fiction). Zweig himself is certainly always present in the narrative but rarely the star; rather he takes on the role of observer of events and other people’s art. Yet paradoxically, despite the lack of private detail, I still felt as if I came to know a good deal of the man while reading this book- his kindness towards others, belief in humanist values, and the romantic sensibility that colored his worldview all shined through. In a way his modesty was part of his charm. But even so, I feel a companion biography such as [b:Three Lives A Biography of Stefan Zweig|11250548|Three Lives A Biography of Stefan Zweig|Oliver Matuschek|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1328692501s/11250548.jpg|16177022] would be worthwhile to help illuminate other facets of his life.

On a final note I am so glad to see Zweig’s work being read again by an international audience and especially being published once more in his native German. In the memoir you can sense his despair at being silenced by the fascists. The devastation must have been immense, as is clear from his choice to end his life in 1942. I think he would be happy to see so many people reacquainting themselves with his work. I hope others will visit the Stefan Zweig Group on Goodreads and consider joining in.

( )
  averybird | Dec 28, 2015 |
Stefan Zweig was born in Austria and was an important part of the European intelligencia in the early and mid 20th century. In this memoir that leans away from the personal and toward the social and historical, he tells of his experiences during the World Wars. Beautiful prose and a thoughtful, modest life--a joy to read. ( )
  gbelik | Dec 4, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (25 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stefan Zweigprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bell, AntheaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gleichmann, GabiAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hagerup, AndersTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hagerup, IngerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heerikhuizen, F.W. vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Toorn, Willem vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Toorn, Willem vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zohn, HarryIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"Let's withdraw
And meet the time as it seeks us."
Shakespeare: Cymbeline

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When I attempt to find a simple formula for the period in which I grew up, prior to the First World War, I hope that I convey its fullness by calling it the Golden Age of Security.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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