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The Collected Stories of Stefan Zweig

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The collected stories of Stefan Zweig, one of the most popular writers of short fiction of the twentieth century This collection brings together twenty-three of Stefan Zweig's best-loved short stories. Written in his typically flowing and readable style, these tales are characterised by their pacing, their psychological insightfulness, and above all their pervading humanity. Including Twenty-four Hours in the Life of a Woman , Amok , Fantastic Night and Letter from an Unknown Woman, translated by Anthea Bell, this gift edition hardback would be an great introduction to Zweig, or a wonderful treat for any fan of his work.

710 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2013

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About the author

Stefan Zweig

1,759 books8,266 followers
Stefan Zweig was one of the world's most famous writers during the 1920s and 1930s, especially in the U.S., South America, and Europe. He produced novels, plays, biographies, and journalist pieces. Among his most famous works are Beware of Pity, Letter from an Unknown Woman, and Mary, Queen of Scotland and the Isles. He and his second wife committed suicide in 1942.
Zweig studied in Austria, France, and Germany before settling in Salzburg in 1913. In 1934, driven into exile by the Nazis, he emigrated to England and then, in 1940, to Brazil by way of New York. Finding only growing loneliness and disillusionment in their new surroundings, he and his second wife committed suicide.
Zweig's interest in psychology and the teachings of Sigmund Freud led to his most characteristic work, the subtle portrayal of character. Zweig's essays include studies of Honoré de Balzac, Charles Dickens, and Fyodor Dostoevsky (Drei Meister, 1920; Three Masters) and of Friedrich Hölderlin, Heinrich von Kleist, and Friedrich Nietzsche (Der Kampf mit dem Dämon, 1925; Master Builders). He achieved popularity with Sternstunden der Menschheit (1928; The Tide of Fortune), five historical portraits in miniature. He wrote full-scale, intuitive rather than objective, biographies of the French statesman Joseph Fouché (1929), Mary Stuart (1935), and others. His stories include those in Verwirrung der Gefühle (1925; Conflicts). He also wrote a psychological novel, Ungeduld des Herzens (1938; Beware of Pity), and translated works of Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, and Emile Verhaeren.
Most recently, his works provided the inspiration for 2014 film The Grand Budapest Hotel.

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5 stars
883 (55%)
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513 (32%)
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152 (9%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 97 reviews
Profile Image for Maciek.
567 reviews3,410 followers
January 11, 2015
Stefan Zweig was an Austrian writer who published many short stories, multiple biographies and historical text, and several plays - and by the 1930's became the world's most translated author. His incredible popularity was cut short by Adolf Hitler's rise to power. As a pacifist and internationalist, Zweig was deeply opposed to Nazism and left his native Austria for England, where he met his second wife, Lotte Attman. As Hitler's troops successfully advanced westward, the Zweigs crossed the Atlantic Ocean and arrived in New York City, where they lived and traveled before settling down in Petrópolis, a mountain town in southeastern Brazil. Petrópolis was to be their last residence - on February 23 in 1942, feeling that he had no country and strength to live in a world filled with Nazism and intolerance, Zweig committed suicide together with his wife. Their bodies were found holding hands.

Although at one time Zweig enjoyed intentional popularity envied by most other authors, in contemporary times his work has been largely slipping out of print and into oblivion in the English speaking world. Several publishing houses have been trying to combat this trend and resurrect interest in Zweig and his work; The Collected Stories of Stefan Zweig by Pushkin Press is perhaps the most comprehensive single collection of his short fiction currently available in English. Translated from German by Anthea Bell, the volume collects 22 of Zweig's short stories, anthologized chronologically and spanning his whole career, including three published posthumously - but does not include his most famous novella, Chess Story (also known as The Royal Game), which I had to read separately and review here.

The stories themselves are washed with melancholy and nostalgia for a world which was slowly disappearing at the time of their writing, and might not have ever entirely existed outside of his imagination. His characters are highly romantic and emotional, and his stories are set in lakeside resorts, grand hotels and small villages. His characters are often strangers dispatched to these places by various accidents, and struggle to find a place where they belong. Zweig enjoys employing the frame story in most of these, and his narrators meet and interact with the real protagonists of these stories in hotels, restaurants, bars or train carriages, and their plot often plays out through recollection.

What is notable about the stories is the almost entire absence of humor - the stories are completely serious and melodramatic, sometimes to the point of unintentional humor. The only story which can be considered truly satirical involves a jealous dog, but the idea is spread too thin; the joke can only last for so long. Similar complain can be extended to the emotional melodrama of other stories - for more than 700 pages this might prove too much for some readers. Zweig is best read one story at a time, with breaks inbetween. Still, Zweig's sentimentality is something that appealed to me and is likely to appeal to others - the lost world of lords and ladies, of great loves and emotional despair. These stories may lack humor, but also lack vulgarity; they're innocent romantic in ways not encountered in contemporary fiction.

The Collected Stories of Stefan Zweig can be an excellent introduction to the author, but with one major flaw - it has neither an introduction or an afterword about the author and his life, and no notes regarding any of the stories. Lack of any complimentary material is puzzling in this otherwise elegant effort, and makes it look bare. Still, if you're looking for Zweig, this is it - you'll get all the Zweig than you can handle, if not more.
Profile Image for Melani.
61 reviews
September 5, 2017
I rarely remember the stories of the books I've read.
Even though I might have read this one at least 5 years ago, I can still go back to some of the characters and stories in it. Zweig's descriptions are vivid images, so much so that I feel like this book is somewhere I've been to, rather than something's I've read.
Profile Image for Vladys Kovsky.
120 reviews28 followers
October 5, 2020
After reading recently a few books by contemporary authors it was a pleasure to dive back in time and enjoy the stylistic perfection of Stefan Zweig. His short stories and novellas are well conceived and immaculately executed. The characters appear as real human beings whether they are men or women, adults or children. The reader can't help but empathize with the people living on these pages, whose motives, fears, and desires are brought into the open by the author's profound psychological insight.

The collection I read slightly differs from the one referenced above. I intend to read the other stories missing from my book. No, actually let me go further, I intend to read everything ever written by Zweig. I am that much impressed.

The Governess - 5 stars
Burning secret - 5 stars
Both of these stories involve children, whose ideal world order suddenly collapses as they glimpse the ugly sides of the adults they love.

A Summer Novella - 5 stars
Fear - 5 stars
Amok - 3 stars
Fantastic Night - 4 stars
Letter from an Unknown Woman - 4 stars
Moonbeam Alley - 4 stars
Twenty-Four Hours in the Life of a Woman - 4 stars
Downfall of the Heart - 5 stars
The Invisible Collection - 5 stars
Leporella - 5 stars
Mendel the Bibliophile - 5 stars
Casual Knowledge of a Craft - 4 stars
Profile Image for Andrew.
2,024 reviews727 followers
July 1, 2020
There's a beautifully unhip Swiss restaurant I like to go to where the crowd is old and gin-blossomed and still chain-smoking, where I come home reeking of Vacherin cheese and unpronounceable Alpine liqueurs, ready to dream of chanterelle mushrooms and Chasselas wine, and I imagine myself nodding to my epauletted majordomo on the shore of a Tyrolean lake as the quartet strikes up a Strauss piece, and I'm unsure whether to ask Baroness Therese or Countess Giulietta to join me in the waltz...

Ergo my love of Stefan Zweig. Each story possesses at least some form of absolute wonder, and Amok stands out as some of his finest work, a miniature novel on par with Chess Story. And all are stories made more poignant by the way their world was destroyed, along with Zweig himself.
Profile Image for Olga Alexandrova.
5 reviews3 followers
April 3, 2014
I consider him a master of short poetic novels.Personal favorites: Letter from an unknown woman and Amok.
Profile Image for Calzean.
2,612 reviews1 follower
March 12, 2019
A masterful collection of short stories that cover people's experiences in a smorgasbord selection of settings. Published over 50 years there are dark tales, black humour, kindness, sadness, rich people, poor people, persecuted races, male and female narrators, various time periods and various locales. Love, loss and the power of empathy predominate. A truly wonderful set of stories.
348 reviews6 followers
September 5, 2014
Either I've come late to the work of Stefan Zweig, or his work has come late to me. Long ago during the 1980's, when I did my literature degree and in the years around it, I assiduously tried to work my way through the classics. In about 1990 I thought 'job done'(at least as far as I was ever going to) and since then I've mainly read non fiction and when I've delved into fiction it has either been to read something new or to re-read something old that I loved. Meanwhile Zweig, aided by some new and, judging by this,rather good translations has nudged his way into the realms of the classics. One ought to have read him. He is Roy Hodgson's favourite author (presumably he reads him in German). Wes Anderson dedicated his last film to him (of which more below).

Is he the real deal? I think he most assuredly is. His work to me seems to sit somewhere between C19th realism and Modernism. It is sharply observed and thematically very rich. Zweig was an orator at Freud's funeral and it shows. The observation and recreation of obsession and neurosis are at the heart of his work, so much so that at times he reminded me of Doestoevsky, although formally he is a bit like Checkov. Is he up there with those two? Of course not, but he is good enough for it not to matter. To be fair I found some of his short stories trite, and rather dependent on a single twist but the longer stories - novellas? - were uniformally excellent. Probably insidious to chose a favourite but I loved 'Letter from an Unknown Woman', every bit as good as the Max Ophuls film. (Ophuls was also a Vienesse Jew and seems moi sympatico with the work). It exhibits many of what I now think of as Zweig's keynotes. Although never described sex is at the heart of things, and female sexuality gets equal billing with male. He has sympathy with women and often writes from a female perspective. Life is cruel, full of disjunctures and things tend to end badly. In most of the stories one of the central characters dies, and more than one story ends in suicide.

Publishing types should also definitely read Mendel the Bibliophile.

Given all this why was Anderson so interested? Zweig creates (or reflects) a polyglot and glamerous world. I'm sure the characters are always well dressed and charming, and they are probably frequently attractive as well. But has Anderson not noticed that they are rarely happy, hence the tendency towards suicide? Who knows.

Anyway, this was good enough for me to want to read in chunks so I could savour it longer.

(Footnote: as I've mentioned Zweig writes a glamerous multi-national set, and frequently talks about sex and obsession. When he wants to create a really special female character she is nearly always English. Power to his elbow).
Profile Image for Chris D'Antonio.
61 reviews
November 8, 2018
So many feelings felt, so many roller coasters experienced. I'll be contemplating this collection of evocative and demanding short stories for some time. Somehow, the author manages to create a wide array of main characters, both male and female in an astounding variety of plots and circumstances, managing to invest you enough in each story to have your heart twisted, broken, or swollen by the end of each story.

This a marvelous study in the capacity of the human imagination and explores a wide variety of emotional and interpersonal territory that so many of us thankfully have not experienced in our lives. I assure you however, that many of his stories will speak to you in some way. They will reach into the most forlorn inaccessible corners of your mind and open up perceptions and feelings of which you had little knowledge.

So, if you have a little spare time here and there, give this one a read. I assure you that you won't be able to put it down until you have at least finished a story or two, okay maybe three, or perhaps you'll just devour the whole book!
Profile Image for Tim Beck.
261 reviews6 followers
July 10, 2015
I was intrigued with Zweig after viewing The Grand Budapest Hotel.

A collection of intriguing short stories, Zweig has an intricate writing style. Very stylistic with lots of detail.

A unique collection of stories.
Profile Image for Edita.
1,401 reviews423 followers
June 28, 2017
[…] only now did I come to life again myself, knowing that I was near you, you, my only dream. I did not guess that in reality I was as far from your mind now, when only the thin, bright glass pane stood between you and my radiant gaze, as if valleys, mountains and rivers separated us.
Profile Image for Nabilah.
273 reviews39 followers
July 2, 2021
His prose had this dream-like quality without any saccharine sweetness. It feels just nice for me.
Profile Image for Christine Liu.
241 reviews68 followers
June 14, 2023
I was going to give this book five stars until “Did He Do It?”. Zweig may be an absolute master of plumbing the depths of the human soul, but he clearly doesn’t know dogs.
Profile Image for Φερειπείν.
291 reviews7 followers
September 19, 2023
Αναφέρομαι αποκλειστικά σε ένα μικρό του διήγημα τον λιποτάκτη.

Σε αυτό το πολύ σύντομο διήγημα ο αγαπητός μας Στέφαν θα μιλήσει για ένα σωρό ανθρώπινες επινοήσεις που στενεύουν την αντίληψή μας στο βαθμό του δυσδιάκριτου πλέον εντοπισμού της.
Για το μεγαλοϊδεατισμό, τη μεγαλομανία και τη μικροψυχία της ανθρώπινης έπαρσης που θεωρεί πως η επιβολή στους άλλους θα φέρει προκοπή, εξέλιξη, πρόοδο.
Για όλες εκείνες τις τραγικά ανόητες στιγμές μας που καπελώνουν άδικα κάθε πραγματικά σπουδαία ιδέα, συναίσθημα, ανθρωπιά που κρύβεται όλο και πιο βαθιά μέσα μας και δυσκολεύεται να εκφραστεί, και το πιο καταθλιπτικό απ'όλα είναι πως όταν καταφέρει να βρει διέξοδο, να αποκτήσει έκφραση, να πάρει υπόσταση γίνεται μια άσκοπη ενέργεια χωρίς αποτέλεσμα. Φανταστείτε πόσο βαριά καταθλιπτική είναι η συνειδητοποίηση της απόλυτης αδυναμίας της ανθρωπιάς και της καλοσύνης, κάθε ευγενούς διάθεσης τέλος πάντων, να φέρει αποτέλεσμα.
Αυτό προκαλεί ο πόλεμος! Τα σύνορα. Οι διαχωρισμοί. Η απομόνωση. Οι εξαναγκασμένες πράξεις. Η απελπισία.
Profile Image for Egg.
118 reviews8 followers
June 4, 2023
Went out and bought this right after finishing Chess Story.

I'm not a big short story reader, so I decided to read one story a day. Only towards the end did I get a little fatigued by the very serious nature of the stories. I also feel like some of them could have been shorter, since in a collection format like this, his writing style and structure becomes more apparent and a little formulaic.

"Did he do it?" left me a little annoyed because like, you raised the dog to be like this.. It is all he knows.

I was very impressed by the first story though. It spans only a handful of pages, but it left me feeling like I knew these characters and had been following them for many chapters.
Profile Image for Kelly.
163 reviews1 follower
April 22, 2015
Forgotten Dreams *** - A woman's lover from earlier days visits her in her garden. Memories are subtly revealed to the reader of her true feelings towards her. He is ultimately turned away when he learns she did, in fact, marry for money. Who are we to judge someone, if they love a lifestyle more than a person or love itself?

In the Snow ***** - A group of Jews flee their town as the countrymen attack and burn the Jews in towns nearby and get closer. The carts get stuck in the snow and they all slowly freeze to death. God's plan? Was there any point in fleeing if only to die here? A great injustice, but spring comes, and life continues. "...the grave of the poor, lost, frozen Jews who have never known true spring in their lives."

The Miracles of Life **** - A painter is asked to create a Madonna, one as beautiful as that commissioned by an Italian artist. After seeing that piece, the painter is stuck for inspiration. How can he create the heavenly Madonna based on the imperfect human? But he finds his inspiration in a black-haired Jewish girl, once rescued by a (now) bartender from persecution. Can the painter use her as a model? Is he able to convert her to Catholicism? The questions of beliefs and religion are threaded deeply through this story.

The Star Above the Forest **** - A servant at a hotel falls into great devotion for Baroness Ostrovska. He cannot live without her, when she must return to Poland. He goes to commit suicide by placing his head on the very tracks her train will be passing over. He worries he has not made it clear how his devotion has led him to his point, but he keeps his head on the tracks. The connection is stronger than even he knows for she feels an urgent pain in her heart like never before, the moments before and during his death. But he was right, he did not make it obvious. She has felt the pain and the loss, but he has left her wondering why.

A Summer Novella *** - A man on holiday leaves letters of secret admiration as a game for a bored teenage girl. He is amused by her keen interest and changes as a result of these letters. She believes it to be a handsome young man who comes over on the ferry every so often. Something wordless starts to develop between the two youths before she is suddenly forced to return to her own town. A love that could have been that never was. The man who started all this doesn't believe in doing things more than once, yet he has returned another summer to this hotel in the hopes of seeing this young girl.

The Governess **** - The children know something is wrong with the governess and sneak around to find out why. A secret is kept from them - the governess is pregnant and eventually the parents demand she leave the house. The governess has lost her innocence to the children's cousin. The children have lost their innocence to the adults' secrets. Why should the governess have to leave, when it is their cousin and their parents who have betrayed them?

Twilight *** - A change in power for the French courts. Madam de Prie is forced to go to her country home. After the control she had and the adoration (real or pretended) she received, it is difficult for her to live here. She is bored without anything or anyone to manipulate. After failed attempts to gain favour in order to return, she seeks her revenge - her own death will get them talking, remember who she was forever. Unfortunately, death is not the beautiful end she expects for herself. The society she once thrived in, like herself, is fickle and the city is too distracted by the wonders of an Italian conjuror to bother noticing her name in the paper.

A Story Told in Twilight -

Wondrak *** - Ruzena Sedlak is the 'Death's Head' - an ugly woman who eventually hides in the woods as caretaker at the Count's hunting cabin. Somehow, the townspeople wonder, she has a child. The news spreads and Ruzena is forced to bring him to town, to baptise and put his name in the register of births. Is this the child's downfall or was it doomed to happen anyway? War begins and the boy is conscripted. He wants to join but Ruzena can't stand to lose her only son. She forces him to hide and life is happy temporarily. She has been separated from her son enough - both school and work. Will war be enough to tear them apart? Or will she be able enough to follow him into anything?

Compulsion -

Moonbeam Alley -

Amok *** -

Fantastic Night -

Letter from an Unknown Woman - ****

The Invisible Collection

Twenty-Four Hours in the Life of a Woman -

Downfall of the Heart -

Incident on Lake Geneva -

Mendel the Bibliophile **** -

Leporella *** -

Did He Do It *** -

The Debt Paid Late **** -
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jeff.
306 reviews19 followers
August 3, 2016
Zweig is one of my favorite authors. While this collection includes 22 of his stories, Pushkin Press had previously issued a number of these works as separate entities. It's great to have them assembled here, in fluid, contemporary translations. My favorite remains "The Invisible Collection," perhaps one of the most touching stories I've ever read, and a classic Zweig structure, where he meets someone on a train, who then relays this event that had just happened to him. That kind of "framing" occurs frequently in Zweig's narratives. There are some who find Zweig too sentimental, but I find his insights into human nature always compelling.
Profile Image for Garrett Zecker.
Author 7 books53 followers
September 13, 2017
A beautifully translated collection that was an absolute pleasure to read. I published my review in Assignment Magazine online today, however - so please head over there to read it!
Profile Image for Appia.
6 reviews2 followers
June 14, 2014
one of the best collection of short stories
Profile Image for Colleen.
347 reviews2 followers
July 17, 2018
Writing by a master storyteller. Writing that takes concentration and a love for the power of language. A piece of literary genius.
Profile Image for Cate.
20 reviews
August 4, 2018
Couldn't finish. Stefan Zweig paints wonderful word pictures. However after a while the stories gain a mundane routine quality. It just wasn't worth it to finish.
Profile Image for Ben Samson.
64 reviews
August 31, 2023
Deathly earnest and so completely humourless it’s almost impressive. But also achingly, piercingly nostalgic in a way that can really bowl you over and Zweig has a talent for lush, romantic imagery like few other writers. Some of these stories have a fantastic clockwork like cleverness to their construction that is heaps of fun too but his is a style that, for me at least, is given to over explanation. For example If something strange is occurring in the story Zweig can’t help but turn himself inside out to point out just how unutterably bizarre that thing is rather than letting the moment play. 700+ pages of this can be quite a stuffy and stultifying world to exist in.
Profile Image for Mariana.
63 reviews51 followers
June 7, 2017
I rated the stories contained in this book individually whenever possible, but I have to give the book itself five stars - what an anthology! I don't have the originals to compare it to, but the translation read so fluidly that I'm sure it must be good. Not to mention probably the only translation available of many of these stories, not a single one of which was bad. Zweig is a fairly recent discovery of mine, but has quickly taken up a special place on my bookshelves. He has a unique ability to be uncynical, nostalgic and almost pathetically tragic, all at the same time, which infuse every one of his stories with a kind of romantic escapism that is quite difficult to capture in more modern books. Personally, I love it, and will continue to hunt down more of his work. But I will be forever grateful to Pushkin for this great, and pretty reasonably-priced collection of stories that would otherwise be unavailable. Not only is the content great, but the design of the book, from the cover down to the font used within, is nothing short of perfection.
(I would just like to write down the four stories that I couldn't rate individually for future reference: In The Snow, Incident On Lake Geneva, Did He Do It?, and The Debt Paid Late.)
38 reviews1 follower
December 12, 2015
Over the course of the year, I would read one, maybe two, of Zweig’s stories every month. He is one of my favorite writers and although I love him, I think it is better to slowly approach this collection with long breaks in between. My favorite stories are stories like Amok and Fantastic Night, where characters are quite suddenly overtaken with emotion to the point it is overflowing within them. In these moments where they are wild with emotions, these characters look outwards at the world with a burning desire only to find everyone else is entirely unaware of the passion that lies within them. But no matter what they do, they cannot help but follow their burning desires into oblivion. Zweig’s stories are beautiful, idiosyncratic little masterpieces that remind me of the lines from a Tracy K. Smith poem: “thinking one day, I’ll reach out and touch the world with bare hands/ even if it burns.”
Profile Image for A Bushra.
87 reviews2 followers
August 30, 2016
In 12 short stories, Zweig describes historically significant moments in a story-like narrative. Transplanting the reader into various 'turning moments' e.g. the Sack of Constantinople.
My favourite was the discovery of the Pacific Ocean. Listening to the story reminded me of John Keats's rather epic poem, as one heard it read by the late Mr.Buckley:

Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star'd at the Pacific — and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise —
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

This book is a masterpiece; the way one is transplanted into this historical turning points is unlike anything hitherto experienced.
Profile Image for Andrea Raisfeld.
22 reviews4 followers
October 30, 2014
I loved the look of this book, a bright orange linen cover, small in length and width but so deep! And the writing was beautiful, passionate. But like the Goldfinch, too long! Was tired of it long before it ended, but had committed myself, so plowed through til the end. I love his voice and his insight into the human experience of emotions. But couldve used a few less stories!
Profile Image for James.
148 reviews9 followers
March 28, 2015
Every story had an impact on me. I'm stunned that he's not more widely read.
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