I got to know about Stefan Zweig and his works rather late in my life. I remember attending a boring party of a professor I could not just disappear from. Bored as I was, I began to look around for that straw I could clutch on, any kind of entertainment that might save my evening. And I actually happened to find it in the form of a small bookjammed between a few fashion magazines on a kitchen shelf.
Relieved, I pulled it out, grabbed a bottle of wine and sat down in a quiet corner. And after a few pages, I had forgotten everything around me.
I read on.
When I finally looked up hours later, the fog outside the windows was the most vivid thing in the entire district. So I hid the book under my jacket, stole another bottle of wine and went home.
I have lost sight of the people of that time (not that it’s a big loss for any of us).
But Zweig’s short stories I never forgot. To this day, they are an inexhaustible source of joy and inspiration I still get ideas from.
To read his work is truly a feast for anyone who loves our language.
Each of his short stories is an intense soul drama pushed to the extreme, touching our hearts. And that’s not just because of hisnarrative style that keeps you breathless, standing as a unique and lonesome kind in the literature of his time.
“… my curiosity was passionately inflamed by that lecture, and I read poetry as I never did before. Can one explain such transformations? And then, suddenly I a world of writing opened up in front of me, and words were just flying toward me as if they had been looking for me for centuries; a roar of fire ran the verse, sweeping me into the vein, that I felt that strange looseness in my temples as if I were in a fast-paced dream. I jerked, I trembled, I felt the warm blood running through me, like a fever it hit me, …”
In “Confusion” Zweig describes the crucial weeks of the life of an aging philologist. He spoke about his experience that made him a reader, a spiritual adept of the word.
Maybe we can take this with us. By reading the story, plunging into the characters and igniting us through Zweig’s language. Through his words, which express an enthusiasm for the literature, which has long been lost today.
„First you have to hear the language from the poets, from those who create and complete.You must have breathedand have held poetry warm to your heart, before we can begin to anatomize it.“
Followed by: “… here, feel it, you young people, most vivid youth in our world. One always recognizes every appearance, every human being only in its fire form, only in its passion. For all spirit arises from blood, thinking only out of passion, passion out of enthusiasm.”
That’s why I started my bibliography with books by H. Hesse. To get a sense that something is missing in our lives.
Later, when we begin to love and understand literature, we can turn to a literary canon.
But first we have to find a way to it again.
A way to not only use our language for chatting or watching TV. But to get to know it in its highest form, as a transmitter of thoughts and feelings.
And in order to be able to learn about this, I recommendand entrust Zweig’s short stories.