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The Post-Office Girl (New York Review Books…

The Post-Office Girl (New York Review Books Classics) (original 1982; edition 2008)

by Stefan Zweig, Joel Rotenberg (Translator)

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6904013,798 (4.13)1 / 167
Title:The Post-Office Girl (New York Review Books Classics)
Authors:Stefan Zweig
Other authors:Joel Rotenberg (Translator)
Info:NYRB Classics (2008), Edition: First English Printing, Paperback, 224 pages
Collections:Your library, Books Read 2013
Tags:fiction, austria, wwi

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The Post Office Girl by Stefan Zweig (1982)


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English (36)  Spanish (1)  Bosnian (1)  French (1)  German (1)  All languages (40)
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
no one can help asking 'why not me?' when they see other people living high on the hog...Why not me too?
Bysally tarboxTOP 500 REVIEWERon 26 August 2012
Format: Paperback
Utterly engrossing novel of two parts. In the first, Christine, a faded 28 year old clerk lives a poor and humdrum life in 1930s Austria. Unexpectedly a rich aunt invites her for a brief holiday; in sensuous descriptions of the luxurious hotel and the gorgeous new clothes, Zweig shows how Christine sees what she has been missing. Suddenly wealthy men are paying her attention, everyone respects and admires her...till the holiday is over and she is returned to her old life. Moody and dissatisfied, she cannot recapture her previous self.
In part 2, she encounters Ferdinand, another angry and resentful individual; years stuck in Siberia as a result of the First World War have ruined his career opportunities.....
Up until the last page I was wondering what would happen, and it didn't go the way I expected! A highly compelling read. ( )
  starbox | Jul 9, 2016 |
So a lot more people liked The Post Office Girl than I did. One of my crew read some of it in German, and complained about the translation and especially the title. For those of you interested, it's a novel that takes place after World War I in Austria. The title character, Crystl, is leading a grim life in a safe job. She has lost her brother in the war, her father is dead, and she and her mother have devolved to a less than genteel poverty after a more comfortable life before the war.

Into this joyless life, she receives an invitation from her aunt, who has been living in the U.S., to join her and her husband at their vacation hotel. Although Crystl feels ashamed and totally out of place when she arrives, her aunt immediately takes her in hand and does the fairy godmother makeover. Crystl is accepted into the social whirl and giddily participates, until her low-class status is revealed and she is forced to return home.

The last third of the story details how she is consumed with rage, how she meets a man who feels similarly wronged by his treatment after the war, and how their relationship re-emphasizes their feelings of despair. They then plan a bold escape - of sorts.

I found it terribly grim, but also relevant to today, reflecting on the gap between the 1% and the rest of the country, the ways in which veterans are not treated adequately for their traumas, and the ways in which poverty is still an issue in this country. Read it at your own risk. ( )
  ffortsa | Jun 24, 2016 |
Review: The Post Office Girl by Stefan Zweig. (Translated by Joel Rotenberg)

The manuscript for this book was discovered after the death of Stefan Zweig in Brazil in 1942. He published an immense volume of work including many highly praised biographies, novellas and short stories. In his day he was one of the most widely read and highly regarded writers in Europe. This novel, possibly not as he may have completed but it provides an excellent illustration of his writing and fascinating storytelling skills. The story is very unhurried, it’s not a packed with action, but the characters, well developed, come to life for the reader to really understand their feelings, hopes, motivations to where the ending is mysterious and left open for the readers imagination. It was an enjoyable read.

I liked the style of the bleak contrast between poverty and incredible wealth in the post-war era. Both sides are portrayed well as you follow Christine’s character at the age of twenty-eight advances from rags to riches and back again. The story flowed well through a desperately lonely and unfulfilling life of Christine who worked as a post-office employee in Austria in the 1920’s after the inflation and financial ruin because of the aftermath of WWI. She also struggled to keep her disabled mother on her small amount of salary in a small two room attic space.

One day her mother received a letter from her estrange American sister who was vacationing in Switzerland with her well-to-do husband. There was an invitation attached to the letter but she was not healthy enough to travel so she offered it to her daughter Christine. This is where Christine feels hope and sees doors opening for her. She enters a new life, a different life, she finds herself among the wealthy circles of luxury. After nine days of having fun and meeting high society people Christine’s finds her dream-life over. Christine is sent home by her Aunt not knowing the real reason why.

Moody and filled with rage Christine struggles to adapt back into her poor, unflattering former life. She meets Ferdinand, an injured soldier, who is equally bitter about his life. After some time of dating they both felt they had only two solutions for how to get out of the wretched lives they were leading. They made a plan, whether it was the one Stefan Zweig would have wanted, no one is sure….I felt Zweig left it unfinished for a reason, suicide is the path he choose for himself…..The story.. Who really knows..!
( )
  Juan-banjo | May 31, 2016 |
Stefan Zweig is one of the greatest authors of the 20th century. If you have not read anything from him, this book is a great starting point. The characters are brilliantly portrayed and Zweig provides a superb feeling for life in post-war Vienna. The book is, however, depressing. ( )
  M_Clark | Feb 28, 2016 |
Terrific book - I've purchased two more of his books recently. ( )
  Judy_Ryfinski | Jan 20, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Zweig, Stefanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Deresiewicz, WilliamAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rotenberg, JoelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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One village post office in Austria is much like another: seen one and you've seen them all.
Memory is so corrupt that you remember only what you want to; if you want to forget about something, slowly but surely you do. [115]
Fear is a distorting mirror in which anything can appear as a distortion of itself, stretched to terrible proportions; once inflamed, the imagination pursues the craziest and most unlikely possibilities. [116]
"You wouldn't believe what a dead finger does to a living hand.
"The smell is suffocating. The smell of stale cigarette smoke, bad food, wet clothes, the smell of the old woman's dread and worry and wheezing."
"Poverty stinks, stinks like a ground-floor room off an air-shaft, or clothes that need changing. You smell it yourself, as though you were made of sewage."
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Book description
From the NYRB edition cover: " The logic of capitalism, boom and bust, is unremitting and unforgiving. But what happens to human feeling in a completely commodified world? In The Post-Office Girl, Stefan Zweig, a deep analyst of the human passions, lays bare the private life of capitalism.
Christine toils in a provincial post office in post-World War I Austria, a country gripped by unemployment. Out of the blue, a telegram arrives from Christine's rich American aunt inviting her to a resort in the Swiss Alps. Christine is immediately swept up into a world of inconceivable wealth and unleashed desire. She feels herself utterly transformed: nothing is impossible. But then, abruptly, her aunt cuts her loose. Christine returns to the post office, where yes, nothing will ever be the same.
Christine meets Ferdinand, a bitter war veteran and disappointed architect, who works construction jobs when he can get them. They are drawn to each other, even as they are crushed by a sense of deprivation, of anger and shame. Work, politics, love, sex: everything is impossible for them. Life is meaningless, unless, through one desperate and decisive act, they can secretly remake their world from within.

Cinderella meets Bonnie and Clyde in Zweig's haunting and hard-as-nails novel, completed during the 1930s, as he was driven by the Nazis into exile, but left unpublished at the time of his death. The Post-Office Girl, available here for the first time in English, transforms our image of a modern master's achievement."
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The post-office girl is Christine, who looks after her ailing mother and toils in a provincial Austrian post office in the years just after the Great War. One afternoon, as she is dozing among the official forms and stamps, a telegraph arrives addressed to her. It is from her rich aunt, who lives in America.… (more)

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