Stefan Zweig


Stefan Zweig : biography

28 November 1881 – 23 February 1942

Mysterious personality and destiny of Mary Stuart, the queen of France, England and Scotland, would always draw descendants’ interest. The author of “Mary Stuart” defined the genre of the book as a novel biography. The queens of England and Scotland should never see each other. That was the wish of Elizabeth. However, they led active correspondence for 25 years. It was proper outwardly, but still, full of hidden pricks and caustic biting.

That correspondence was put to the base of Zweig’s book. The writer also used testimonies of friends and enemies of the both queens. Just in order to bring in a impartial verdict for both of them.

Having finished the biography of the beheaded queen, Zweig started his final speculation. He can to a conclusion that moral and politics had its own different ways. And the events were estimated in different ways according to the chosen point of view. We can judge with the point of view of humaneness or political benefits. For a writer of the beginning 0f 30s the conflict between moral and politics had not only speculative but also quite appreciable character, which would touch the writer himself.

The hero of the book Triumph and tragedy of Erasmus von Roterodamus” was especially close to the author. He sympathized Erasmus because of the fact that the latter considered himself to be a world citizen. Erasmus refused the most prestigious positions at both church and society spheres. He was a stranger to vain passions and used great efforts to achieve independence. He won the audience of his epoch because he appeared to be able to answer all the painful questions of his time.

Erasmus blamed fanatics and scholastics, bride-takers and ignoramuses. But he especially hated the ones who sowed seeds of discord among people. However, as a result of monstrous religious discord, Germany and the whole Europe, following it, were covered with blood.

According to Zweig’s conception, the tragedy of Erasmus was that he didn’t manage to prevent the carnage. Stefan Zweig believed for long time that the First World war just a tragic ambiguity, and that would be the last war in the world. He also thought (together with Romain Rolland and Henry Barbusse) that, uniting with German anti-Nazi writers, he could prevent the new world carnage. But just while Stefan Zweig was working at his book about Erasmus, Nazi searched his house. That was the first sign of alert.

Last years. “The world of Yesterday”

The position of Stefan Zweig in the end of 30s could be described as being between a hammer and a sickle on one side and a swastika on the other. That was why his finishing part of memoirs “The world of Yesterday” was so melancholic. The “old” world was gone and the new one was strange to the writer. The last years of Stefan Zweig’s life were the years of wandering. He escaped from Salzburg, choosing London to be a temporary place of residence (1935). However, he didn’t feel protected in England. So, he went to Latin American in 1940 and later moved to the USA in 1941, but very soon he decided to settle down in a small Brazilian city Petropolis.

On 22 February Stefan Zweig passed away together with his wife. They took too overdose of hypnotic drug.

Erich Maria Remarque wrote about that miserable event in his novel “Shadows in Paradise”. He wrote that if only Stefan Zweig and his wife could unbosom themselves to anybody that night, even over the telephone, they might not commit suicide, but, unfortunately, Stefan Zweig was in the strange land, among strange people.

Stefan Zweig and Russia

Stefan Zweig loved Russian literature when he was studying at gymnasium. Later he read Russian Classical literature while he was getting education at Vienna and Berlin Universities. Stefan Zweig confessed that when his collection of writings started to appear in Russia in 20s, he felt happy. The foreword of that twenty-volume collection was written by Maxim Gorky. The Russian writer wrote that Stefan Zweig embodied rare and happily combination of a talent of a deep thinker and a talent of a first-class artist. Gorky appreciated Stefan Zweig’s novels especially highly; he said that Zweig had a wonderful talent of telling stories about the most personal human feelings candidly but as tactfully as it was possible.