Friday, January 29, 2016

Beware of Pity - Stefan Zweig

Brilliant and dreadful; I imagine that Wes Anderson (Grand Budapest Hotel) does him best - intense and parodic at once.  Zweig is insistently 19th century - I am reminded of Turgenev, slow detailed, soft - with moments of high, almost too high drama.  He is also informed by 20th century thinking; an acquaintance of Freud, he believed that the sexual liberation taking place around him was actual and transformational liberation.  I have read a novel, Beware of Pity, two novellas - Chess and Twenty Four Hours in the Life of a Woman, and an extract from his autobiography - The World of Yesterday.  At times I was amazed - this guy really understands stuff; wow!!!!!!, that is exactly what should have happened, how did he do that.  At other times, labouring in details that might have been skipped, condensed, I was genuinely bored - "got the message, Zweig; get on with it."  Zweig made his early reputation translating the work of poets.  My temptation then is to recommend his work to up-and-coming writers who will translate his writings into good, solid, masterpiececal brilliance.  Alternatively, just have a go; at the end of each book, I felt that the time allowed to reading it had been rescued, made worthwhile.

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