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Zweig, Stefan (1881-1942)

ZWEIG, STEFAN (1881-1942)

Stefan Zweig, an Austrian writer, was born in Vienna on November 28, 1881, and committed suicide in Petrópolis, Brazil, on February 22, 1942. From a wealthy middle-class Jewish family, Zweig enjoyed a privileged childhood. He grew up in an open-minded and multilingual homea background that undoubtedly played a role in his subsequent commitment to humanist and supranationalist thought. While young he became a celebrated author, traveled widely, and developed friendships with a host of literary figures, among them the French novelist and playwright Romain Rolland and the Belgian poet Emile Verhaeren, whose work he translated. Zweig's best-know works include the novels Amok (1922), Beware of Pity (1938), and Conflicts (1926), a collection that includes the novella Twenty-four Hours in the Life of a Woman. His autobiography, The World of Yesterday, appeared posthumously in 1943.

Zweig's work, at once distinguished by its richness and diversity, includes poetry, plays, essays, short stories, novels, and biographies. He was one of the most prolific authors of his time and played a major role in creating a rapprochement between French and German literature.

In Mental Healers (1932), Zweig not only discussed Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, and Franz Mesmer's animal magnetism; he also devoted an essay to Freud, for whom he expressed profound admiration and gratitude. In 1908 Zweig and Freud began a long correspondence that continued until the latter's death in London in 1939. Zweig delivered Freud's funeral oration.

In Zweig's letter to Freud of September 8, 1926, he wrote, "For me, psychology is today the great passion of my life (as you will understand better than anyone else). . . . You still play the decisive role in the invisible struggle for the soul. You alone are always the one to explain to us, in a creative way, the mechanism of the spiritual. More than ever we need you and your activity." Later, in his letter of October 21, 1932, he wrote, "Everything I write is marked by your influence and you understand, perhaps, that the courage to tell the truth, probably the essential thing in my books, comes from you: You have served as a model for an entire generation." Zweig's interest in psychoanalysis found expression in his writings. In both his novels and fictionalized biographies, the main characters are presented in "case histories," made more intriguing by a nostalgic evocation of a society condemned by history.

Freud recognized in Zweig an interest in, and aptitude for, psychological analysis. Although they argued several timesover errors Zweig made in translating Freud's work and concerning Zweig's appreciation of such detractors as Charles E. MaylanFreud valued Zweig's friendship until the end of his life.

After the Nazis prohibited and destroyed his books in 1933, Zweig emigrated to London in 1934. Together with Salvador Dali, he visited Freud on July 19, 1938. Since Freud was near death, Zweig did not dare to show him the two sketches that Dali had made of him. In his last letter to Freud, dated September, 14, 1939, nine days before Freud's death, he wrote, "I hope that you are suffering only from the era, as we all do, and not also from physical pain. We must stand firm nowit would be absurd to die without having first seen the criminals sent to hell."

After obtaining British citizenship in 1940, Zweig settled in Petrópolis, Brazil, in 1941. He became a symbol of the anguish of exile and the refusal to accept Hitler's early triumphs. Despite this, in profound despair after Nazi victories early in the war, he committed suicide together with his second wife, Lotte Altmann.

In his final declaration Zweig wrote, "It seems to me therefore better to put an end, in good time and without humiliation, to a life in which intellectual work has always been an unmixed joy and personal freedom earth's most precious possession." "I greet all my friends! May they live to see the dawn after the long night is over! I, all too impatient, am going on alone" (Allday, 1972, p. 238).

Christine de Kerchove

See also: "Dostoyevsky and parricide"; Goethe Prize; Literature and psychoanalysis.

Bibliography

Allday, Elizabeth. (1972). Stefan Zweig: A critical biography. Chicago: J. Philip O'Hara.

Freud, Sigmund, and Zweig, Stefan. (1987). Correspondence. Paris: Rivages Poche.

Niémetz, Serge. (1996). Stefan Zweig: Le voyageur et ses mondes. Paris: Belfond.

Zweig, Stefan. (1932). Mental healers: Franz Anton Mesmer, Mary Baker Eddy, Sigmund Freud. New York: Viking Press.

Further Reading

Mijolla, Alain de. (1998). Freud, biography, his autobiography, and his biographers. Psychoanalysis and History, 1 (1), 4-27.

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Zweig, Stefan

Stefan Zweig (shtĕf´än tsvīk), 1881–1942, Austrian biographer, poet, and novelist. Born in Vienna of a well-to-do Jewish family, he was part of the humanitarian, pan-European, pacifist, and populist cultural circle that included Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Richard Strauss. Zweig's first works were poetry and a poetic drama, Jeremias (1917, tr. 1929), which expressed his passionately antiwar feelings. During the 1920s and 30s, Zweig was extremely popular, and he was the most widely translated writer in Europe. With the rise of National Socialism, his works were condemned throughout the German-speaking world. He fled into exile in 1934, emigrating first to England, then to New York. In 1941 he and his second wife went to Brazil, where, exiled from the vanished cosmopolitan Europe where he had flourished, they subsquently committed suicide.

Zweig's best-known works of fiction are Ungeduld des Herzens (1938, tr. Beware of Pity, 1939, repr. 2006) and Schachnovelle (1944, tr. The Royal Game, 1944). He also wrote many biographies, which were based on psychological interpretation. The subjects of these include Marie Antoinette, Erasmus, Mary Queen of Scots, Magellan, Balzac, Verlaine, and Freud. Zweig's historical perception is best seen in Sternstunden der Menschheit (1928, tr. The Tide of Fortune, 1940). Long out of fashion and largely out of print, Zweig's work experienced a resurgence of interest in the 21st cent. when several of his books were retranslated and reprinted.

See his autobiography (and his last book, completed 1941 in Brazil), The World of Yesterday (1943) and his Collected Stories (2013); biographies by D. A. Prater (1972), E. Allday (1972), and O. Matuschek (2011); G. Prochnik, The Impossible Exile (2014).

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Zweig, Stefan

Zweig, Stefan (b Vienna, 1881; d Petrópolis, Brazil, 1942). Austrian novelist and playwright. Wrote lib. of Die schweigsame Frau for Richard Strauss and supervised libs. of Friedenstag and Daphne. Further collaboration with Strauss forbidden by Nazis because he was Jewish. Correspondence with Strauss pubd. (Frankfurt 1957, Eng. trans., Univ. of Calif., 1977). Died in suicide pact with his second wife.

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"Zweig, Stefan." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Encyclopedia.com. 12 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Zweig, Stefan." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Retrieved December 12, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/zweig-stefan