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Confusion and Other Novellas
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978-619-02-0634-7
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Hardback
Size
12/20
Pages
240
Published
23 April 2021

Confusion and Other Novellas

Stefan Zweig was particularly drawn to the novella, and Confusion, a rigorous and yet transporting dramatization of the conflict between the heart and the mind, is among his supreme achievements in the form.

A young man who is rapidly going to the dogs in Berlin is packed off by his father to a university in a sleepy provincial town. There a brilliant lecture awakens in him a wild passion for learning—as well as a peculiarly intense fascination with the graying professor who gave the talk. The student grows close to the professor, be­coming a regular visitor to the apartment he shares with his much younger wife. He takes it upon himself to urge his teacher to finish the great work of scholarship that he has been laboring at for years and even offers to help him in any way he can. The professor welcomes the young man’s attentions, at least on some days. On others, he rages without apparent reason or turns away from his disciple with cold scorn. The young man is baffled, wounded. He cannot understand. But the wife understands. She understands perfectly. And one way or another she will help him to understand too.

The other two novellas included in this volume are: Twenty-Four Hours in the Life of a Woman and The Destruction of a Heart.

About the Author
Stefan  Zweig

Born in Vienna, Zweig was the son of Moritz Zweig, a wealthy Jewish textile manufacturer, and Ida (Brettauer) Zweig, the daughter of an Italian banking family. He studied philosophy and the history of literature, and in Vienna he was associated with the avant garde Young Vienna movement. Jewish religion did not play a central role in his education. "My mother and father were Jewish only through accident of birth," Zweig said later in an interview. Although his essays were published in the Neue Freie Presse, whose literary editor was the Zionist leader Theodor Herzl, Zweig was not attracted to Herzl's Jewish nationalism.

During the First World War he took a pacifist stand together with Romain Rolland from Switzerland, summoning intellectuals from all the world to join them in active pacifism, which actually led to Romain Rolland being awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. Zweig remained pacifist all his life but also advocated the unification of Europe before the Nazis came, which has had some influence in the making of the EU.

Like Rolland, he wrote many biographies but considered the one on Erasmus Rotterdamus his most important one, which he described as a concealed autobiography.

Zweig fled Austria in 1934 following Hitler's rise to power. He was famously defended by the composer Richard Strauss who refused to remove Zweig's name (as librettist) from the posters for the premiere, in Dresden, of his opera Die schweigsame Frau (The Silent Woman). This led to Hitler refusing to come to the premiere as planned; the opera was banned after three performances.

Zweig then lived in England (in Bath and London), before moving to the United States. In 1941 he went to Brazil, where in 1942 he and his second wife Lotte (née Charlotte Elisabeth Altmann) committed suicide together in Petrópolis using the barbiturate Veronal, despairing at the future of Europe and its culture. "I think it is better to conclude in good time and in erect bearing a life in which intellectual labour meant the purest joy and personal freedom the highest good on earth," he wrote. His autobiography The World of Yesterday is a paean to the European culture he considered lost.

Print Edition
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ISBN
978-619-02-0634-7
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