6/06/2019

Stefan Zweig, European Man

"As for Stefan Zweig the story­teller, here his reputation seems to suffer from his stories’ and novellas’ being too well-made, if that can really stand as a criticism. They are all truly stories; in them moral crises are encountered and resolved, people learn about themselves, lives are changed. The endings do not disappoint. Zweig claimed to be entranced by “the tragedy of losers,” noting: “I am always most attracted to the character who is struck down by fate in my novellas, and in my biographies it is those who are morally right but never achieve success who appeal to me.” Several of the characters in his fictions are obsessives—mono­maniacs, chess fanatics, passionate bibliophiles, dog-lovers among them. He is also attracted to the sadder emotions: confusion, pity, fear. But in all his fiction the people come alive, one wants to read on, and the unpredictable never seems implausible—three tests for excellent fiction, which Zweig never fails to pass."