Monday, July 27, 2009

Stefan Zweig

I've wanted to tackle the work of Stefan Zweig for quite some time; it was only today, however, that I had the opportunity to enjoy his Journey into the Past. Like Joseph Roth's Flight without End, Zweig's Journey provides a powerful meditation on the relationship between history, memory, and identity during those final - twilight - years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Pushkin Press edition of Journey left me wanting to explore Zweig (and his exile from Salzburg following the Nuremberg Laws) in greater detail. It also, I should note, provided a wonderful introduction to the narrative structure of this rewarding novella: "Zweig's...method is simple," writes Paul Bailey. "Someone has a desperate story to tell, and Zweig contrives a way for him to tell it. The beauty lies in the act of telling, of exquisite self-exposure, the thrill of sending an illicit message into the unknown." To read Journey is to confront a message of love and reunion; it is also, however, to look upon Europe just before the arrival of those dark, dark clouds.

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