Yesterday I inadvertently omitted another novelist born in 1881. But perhaps it’s impossible to omit something inadvertently of which you are ignorant at the time? My host at lunch this week said that he has been an admirer of the Austrian writer, Stefan Zweig, for many years. I had never heard of him and had to ask how to spell his name.
Wiki does not beat around the bush: Stefan Zweig 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 popular writers in the world.
It has happened before and will happen again that I find myself ignorant about a host of artists and writers between the wars. Zweig was a Jew living in Austria until 1934 when Nazism made him move to England where he lived in London and then Bath. Fearing a German invasion in 1940 he moved to Connecticut and New York. Later that year he was on the move again with his wife and went to Brazil.
He completed a memoir, The World of Yesterday, in 1942 and I have ordered a copy on my friend’s recommendation. He was a productive writer of novels, biographies and librettos for some of Richard Strauss’s operas and I’d never heard of him. The book may be rather too dark for my liking. The day after he completed it he and his wife took an overdose of barbiturates. You will be reminded of Arthur Koestler and his wife who died under similar circumstances in 1983.
As you can see, Stefan Zweig is still remembered in Brazil and quite a bit of his work is available in English. I will report on his memoir in due course.