Moritz Zweig (1845-1926) Ida Brettauer (1854-1938)
Alfred Zweig (1879-1977) (brother)
Stefan Zweig (; German: ['?t?.fan t?svak] ; 28 November 1881 - 22 February 1942) was an Austrian novelist, playwright, journalist and biographer. At the height of his literary career, in the 1920s and 1930s, he was one of the most widely translated and most popular writers in the world.
In 1934, as a result of the Nazi Party's rise in Germany, Zweig emigrated to England and then, in 1940, moved briefly to New York and then to Brazil, where he settled. In his final years, he would declare himself in love with the country, writing about it in the book Brazil, Land of the Future. Nonetheless, as the years passed Zweig became increasingly disillusioned and despairing at the future of Europe, and he and his wife Lotte were found dead of a barbiturate overdose in their house in Petrópolis on 23 February 1942; they had died the previous day. His work has been the basis for several film adaptations. Zweig's memoir, Die Welt von Gestern (The World of Yesterday, 1942), is noted for its description of life during the waning years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire under Franz Joseph I and has been called the most famous book on the Habsburg Empire.
Stefan Zweig (standing) in Vienna with his brother Alfred, circa 1900
Zweig was born in Vienna, the son of Moritz Zweig (1845-1926), a wealthy Jewish textile manufacturer, and Ida Brettauer (1854-1938), a daughter of a Jewish banking family. He was related to the Czech writer Egon Hostovský, who described him as "a very distant relative"; some sources describe them as cousins.
Zweig studied philosophy at the University of Vienna and in 1904 earned a doctoral degree with a thesis on "The Philosophy of Hippolyte Taine". 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. Yet he did not renounce his Jewish faith and wrote repeatedly on Jews and Jewish themes, as in his story Buchmendel. Zweig had a warm relationship with Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism, whom he met when Herzl was still literary editor of the Neue Freie Presse, then Vienna's main newspaper; Herzl accepted for publication some of Zweig's early essays. Zweig, a committed cosmopolitan, believed in internationalism and in Europeanism, as The World of Yesterday, his autobiography, makes clear: "I was sure in my heart from the first of my identity as a citizen of the world." According to Amos Elon, Zweig called Herzl's book Der Judenstaat an "obtuse text, [a] piece of nonsense".
Zweig served in the Archives of the Ministry of War and adopted a pacifist stance like his friend Romain Rolland, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature 1915. Zweig married Friderike Maria von Winternitz (born Burger) in 1920; they divorced in 1938. As Friderike Zweig she published a book on her former husband after his death. She later also published a picture book on Zweig. In the late summer of 1939, Zweig married his secretary Elisabet Charlotte "Lotte" Altmann in Bath, England. Zweig's secretary in Salzburg from November 1919 to March 1938 was Anna Meingast (13 May 1881, Vienna - 17 November 1953, Salzburg).
A page from the Black Book (Sonderfahndungsliste G.B., page 231 Z). Zweig is the second-to-last on the page, along with his full London address.
As a Jew, Zweig's high profile did not shield him from the threat of persecution. In 1934, following Hitler's rise to power in Germany, Zweig left Austria for England, living first in London, then from 1939 in Bath. Because of the swift advance of Hitler's troops westwards, and the threat of arrest or worse - as part of the preparations for Operation Seelöwe a list of persons to be detained immediately after conquest of the British Isles, the so-called Black Book, had been assembled and Zweig was on page 231, with his London address fully mentioned - Zweig and his second wife crossed the Atlantic to the United States, settling in 1940 in New York City; they lived for two months as guests of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, then they rented a house in Ossining, New York.
On 22 August 1940, they moved again to Petrópolis, a German-colonized mountain town 68 kilometres north of Rio de Janeiro. Zweig, feeling increasingly depressed about the situation in Europe and the future for humanity, wrote in a letter to author Jules Romains, "My inner crisis consists in that I am not able to identify myself with the me of passport, the self of exile". On 23 February 1942, the Zweigs were found dead of a barbiturateoverdose in their house in the city of Petrópolis, holding hands. He had been despairing at the future of Europe and its culture. "I think it 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.
The Zweigs' house in Brazil was later turned into a cultural centre and is now known as Casa Stefan Zweig.
Zweig was a prominent writer in the 1920s and 1930s, befriending Arthur Schnitzler and Sigmund Freud. He was extremely popular in the United States, South America and Europe, and remains so in continental Europe; however, he was largely ignored by the British public. His fame in America had diminished until the 1990s, when there began an effort on the part of several publishers (notably Pushkin Press, Hesperus Press, and The New York Review of Books) to get Zweig back into print in English.Plunkett Lake Press has reissued electronic versions of his non-fiction works. Since that time there has been a marked resurgence and a number of Zweig's books are back in print.
Critical opinion of his oeuvre is strongly divided between those who praise his humanism, simplicity and effective style, and those who criticize his literary style as poor, lightweight and superficial.Michael Hofmann scathingly attacks Zweig's work. Hofmann uses the term "vermicular dither" to refer to a passage attributed to Zweig and quoted in 1972, though the passage does not occur in Zweig's published work. Hofmann adds that in his opinion "Zweig just tastes fake. He's the Pepsi of Austrian writing." Even the author's suicide note, Hofmann suggests, causes one to feel "the irritable rise of boredom halfway through it, and the sense that he doesn't mean it, his heart isn't in it (not even in his suicide)".
Zweig's memoir,The World of Yesterday, was completed in 1942 one day before he committed suicide. It has been widely discussed as a record of "what it meant to be alive between 1881 and 1942" in central Europe; the book has attracted both critical praise and hostile dismissal.
Surviving copy of Zweig's novel Amok (1922) burned by Nazis
Zweig acknowledged his debt to psychoanalysis. In a letter dated 8 September 1926, he wrote to Freud, "Psychology is the great business of my life". He went on explaining that Freud had considerable influence on a number of writers such as Marcel Proust, D.H. Lawrence and James Joyce giving them a lesson in "courage" and helping them overcome their inhibitions. "Thanks to you, we see many things. - Thanks to you we say many things which otherwise we would not have seen nor said." Autobiography, in particular, had become "more clear-sighted and audacious".
Zweig enjoyed a close association with Richard Strauss, and provided the libretto for Die schweigsame Frau (The Silent Woman). Strauss famously defied the Nazi regime by refusing to sanction the removal of Zweig's name from the programme  for the work's première on 24 June 1935 in Dresden. As a result, Goebbels refused to attend as planned, and the opera was banned after three performances. Zweig later collaborated with Joseph Gregor, to provide Strauss with the libretto for one other opera, Daphne, in 1937. At least one other work by Zweig received a musical setting: the pianist and composer Henry Jolles, who like Zweig had fled to Brazil to escape the Nazis, composed a song, "Último poema de Stefan Zweig", based on "Letztes Gedicht", which Zweig wrote on the occasion of his 60th birthday in November 1941. During his stay in Brazil, Zweig wrote Brasilien, Ein Land der Zukunft (Brazil, A Land of the Future) which consisted in a collection of essays on the history and culture of his newly adopted country.
Amok, 1922 (Original title: Amok) - novella, initially published with several others in Amok. Novellen einer Leidenschaft
The Invisible Collection, 1925 (Original title: Die unsichtbare Sammlung)
Downfall of the Heart, 1927 (Original title: Untergang eines Herzens)
The Invisible Collection see Collected Stories below, (Original title: Die Unsichtbare Sammlung, first published in book form in 'Insel-Almanach auf das Jahr 1927')
The Refugee, 1927 (Original title: Der Flüchtling. Episode vom Genfer See).
Confusion of Feelings or Confusion: The Private Papers of Privy Councillor R. Von D, 1927 (Original title: Verwirrung der Gefühle) - novella initially published in the volume Verwirrung der Gefühle: Drei Novellen
Short stories, 1930 (Original title: Kleine Chronik. Vier Erzählungen) - includes Buchmendel
Did He Do It?, published between 1935 and 1940 (Original title: War er es?)
Leporella, 1935 (Original title: Leporella)
Collected Stories, 1936 (Original title: Gesammelte Erzählungen) - two volumes of short stories: 1. The Chains (Original title: Die Kette) 2. Kaleidoscope (Original title: Kaleidoskop). Includes: Casual Knowledge of a Craft, Leporella, Fear, Burning Secret, Summer Novella, The Governess, Buchmendel, The Refugee, The Invisible Collection, Fantastic Night and Moonbeam Alley
Incident on Lake Geneva, 1936 (Original title: Episode am Genfer See Revised version of "Der Flüchtung. Episode vom Genfer See" published in 1927)
Three Masters: Balzac, Dickens, Dostoeffsky, 1920 (Original title: Drei Meister. Balzac - Dickens - Dostojewski. Translated into English by Eden and Cedar Paul and published in 1930 as Three Masters)
Romain Rolland: The Man and His Work, 1921 (Original title: Romain Rolland. Der Mann und das Werk)
Nietzsche, 1925 (Originally published in the volume titled: Der Kampf mit dem Dämon. Hölderlin - Kleist - Nietzsche)
Decisive Moments in History, 1927 (Original title: Sternstunden der Menschheit). Translated into English and published in 1940 as The Tide of Fortune: Twelve Historical Miniatures; retranslated in 2013 by Anthea Bell as Shooting Stars: Ten Historical Miniatures
Adepts in Self-Portraiture: Casanova, Stendhal, Tolstoy, 1928 (Original title: Drei Dichter ihres Lebens. Casanova - Stendhal - Tolstoi)
Joseph Fouché, 1929 (Original title: Joseph Fouché. Bildnis eines politischen Menschen) Now available as an electronic book
Amerigo, 1942 (Original title: Amerigo. Geschichte eines historischen Irrtums) - written in 1942, published the day before he died ISBN4-87187-857-0
Balzac, 1946 - written, as Richard Friedenthal [de] describes in a postscript, by Zweig in the Brazilian summer capital of Petrópolis, without access to the files, notebooks, lists, tables, editions and monographs that Zweig accumulated for many years and that he took with him to Bath, but that he left behind when he went to America. Friedenthal wrote that Balzac "was to be his magnum opus, and he had been working at it for ten years. It was to be a summing up of his own experience as an author and of what life had taught him." Friedenthal claimed that "The book had been finished", though not every chapter was complete; he used a working copy of the manuscript Zweig left behind him to apply "the finishing touches", and Friedenthal rewrote the final chapters (Balzac, translated by William and Dorothy Rose [New York: Viking, 1946], pp. 399, 402).
Paul Verlaine, Copyright 1913, By L.E. Basset Boston, Mass., USA. authorized English translation by O.F. Theis. Luce and Company Boston. Maunsel and Co. Ltd Dublin and London.
The 2013 French film A Promise (Une promesse) is based on Zweig's novella Journey into the Past (Reise in die Vergangenheit).
The 2013 Swiss film Mary Queen of Scots directed by Thomas Imbach is based on Zweig's Maria Stuart.
The end-credits for Wes Anderson's 2014 film The Grand Budapest Hotel say that the film was inspired in part by Zweig's novels. Anderson said that he had "stolen" from Zweig's novels Beware of Pity and The Post-Office Girl in writing the film, and it features actors Tom Wilkinson as The Author, a character based loosely on Zweig, and Jude Law as his younger, idealised self seen in flashbacks. Anderson also said that the film's protagonist, the concierge Gustave H., played by Ralph Fiennes, was based on Zweig. In the film's opening sequence, a teenage girl visits a shrine for The Author, which includes a bust of him wearing Zweig-like spectacles and celebrated as his country's "National Treasure".
The 2017 Austrian-German-French film Vor der Morgenröte (Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe) chronicles Stefan Zweig's travels in the North and South Americas, trying to come to terms with his exile from home.
The 2018 American short film Crepúsculo by Clemy Clarke is based on Zweig's short story "A Story Told in Twilight" and relocated to a quinceañera in 1980s New York.
TV film La Ruelle au clair de lune (1988) by Édouard Molinaro is an adaptation of Zweig's short-story Moonbeam Alley.
^Zweig, Stefan (1942). "Chapter IX: The First Hours of the War of 1914". The World of Yesterday. Chapter IX, paragraph 20 beginning "As a result": Kindle location code 3463: Plunkett Lake Press (ebook).CS1 maint: location (link)
^"Milestones, Mar. 2, 1942". Time. 2 March 1942. Archived from the original on 14 October 2010. Retrieved 2017. Died. Stefan Zweig, 60, Austrian-born novelist, biographer, essayist (Amok, Adepts in Self-Portraiture, Marie Antoinette), and his wife, Elizabeth; by poison; in Petropolis, Brazil. Born into a wealthy Jewish family in Vienna, Zweig turned from casual globe-trotting to literature after World War I, wrote prolifically, smoothly, successfully in many forms. His books banned by the Nazis, he fled to Britain in 1938 with the arrival of German troops, became a British subject in 1940, moved to the U.S. the same year, to Brazil the next. He was never outspoken against Nazism, believed artists and writers should be independent of politics. Friends in Brazil said he left a suicide note explaining that he was old, a man without a country, too weary to begin a new life. His last book: Brazil: Land of the Future.
Marion Sonnenfeld (editor), The World of Yesterday's Humanist Today. Proceedings of the Stefan Zweig Symposium, texts by Alberto Dines, Randolph J. Klawiter, Leo Spitzer and Harry Zohn, State University of New York Press, 1983
Vanwesenbeeck, Birger; Gelber, Mark H. (2014). Stefan Zweig and World Literature: Twenty-First-Century Perspectives. Rochester: Camden House. ISBN9781571139245.
Giorgia Sogos, Le biografie di Stefan Zweig tra Geschichte e Psychologie. Triumph und Tragik des Erasmus von Rotterdam, Marie Antoinette, Maria Stuart, Firenze University Press, Firenze 2013, e-ISBN978-88-6655-508-7.
Giorgia Sogos, Stefan Zweig, der Kosmopolit. Studiensammlung über seine Werke und andere Beiträge. Eine kritische Analyse, Free Pen Verlag, Bonn 2017, ISBN978-3-945177-43-3.