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Beware of Pity

Beware of Pity [Kindle Edition]

Stefan Zweig , Anthea Bell
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)

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Product Description


"Beware of Pity is the most exciting book I have ever read...a feverish, fascinating novel" Anthony Beevor --Sunday Telegraph


"Beware of Pity is the most exciting book I have ever read...a feverish, fascinating novel." Anthony Beevor, Sunday Telegraph"

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 763 KB
  • Print Length: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Pushkin Press (13 July 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006WV3CLU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #7,451 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Stefan Zweig (1881-1942) was an Austrian writer who, at the height of his fame in the 1920s and 30s, was one of the most famous authors in the world. Zweig was born into a wealthy Austrian-Jewish family in Vienna, where he attended school and university before continuing his studies on Berlin. A devotee of Hugo von Hoffmanstahl, he had published his first book of poetry by the age of 19. After taking a pacifist stance during the First World War he travelled widely and became an international bestseller with a string of hugely popular novellas including Letter from an Unknown Woman, Amok and Fear. He also developed friendships with great writers, thinkers and artists of the day, including Romain Rolland, Rainer Maria Rilke, Arturo Toscanini and, perhaps most importantly, Sigmund Freud, whose philosophy had a great influence on Zweig's work.

In 1934, with the rise of Nazism, he moved to London. There he began proceedings for the divorce of his first wife Frederika, whom he had left for his secretary Lotte Altmann, a young German-Jewish refugee. In London he also wrote his only novel - his most famous and arguably greatest work, Beware of Pity - before moving to Bath, where, with the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, he and Lotte took British citizenship. With the German occupation of France in 1940, Zweig, a committed pacifist and advocate of European integration, was devastated. "Europe is finished, our world destroyed," he wrote. Zweig and Lotte married and left Europe for New York, before finally settling in Petrópolis, Brazil, where in 1942 the couple were found dead in an apparent double suicide.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest novels? 15 Jun 2011
"Beware of Pity" is breathtaking, making one examine the qualities one demands of fiction and ruminate on how seldom they are fulfilled.
A naive young soldier takes pity on a young crippled girl who falls in love with him. That is how this deceptively simple story begins.
But he finds himself trapped in a web of "good intentions" spun by the girl's family, all urging him to fulfill her dreams of romance.
He simply doesn't know what to do.
And the plot thickens and thickens until the reader himself feels trapped.
One cannot wait to read how it will end.
This book fulfills all, and more, of what I expect from a book.
I love a book which makes you turn the pages, breathless to know what is going to happen.
If it also gives you ample food for thought, as this does, on the moral complexities of life, so much the better.
How did Stefan Zweig manage to make me, a reader with very firm rules about never looking at the last pages before reading everything that comes before them, long to know how this gripping tale turns out?
I have read thousands of novels but never one with such a grip on the reader.
I compare it to "Perfume" by Susskind, and "Les Liasons Dangereuses" by de Laclos in intensity and ingenuity.
As well as being intensely gripping, it is also beautifully written with such an understanding of the four main characters that it is almost uncanny: you become these characters and have an equal insight into each one.
If you have never read Zweig, this would be an unforgettable introduction. You could then go on to his marvellous novellas.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A heart-breaking work of staggering genius 7 July 2007
By Baz
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase, not the book by Dave Eggers, but this masterpiece by Stefan Zweig. I came upon this by accident, and bought it, intrigued by the story outline and the reviews below. Only very, very rarely does a book have the power to draw me into the lives of the characters, probably because they're usually just that - characters. Not so here. Here we have flesh and blood and all that entails. I'm still amazed at Zweig's story telling. He's the kind of writer who could make a shopping list fascinating. I lived and breathed every single word in this incredibly beautiful book, and as Nigel Rodgers has accurately said below, the tension becomes almost unendurable. I can hardly do justice to it in a few words. Weirdly, I often found myself smiling, not because it's a funny book, far from it, but just through an appreciation of Zweig's supreme mastery of his art. This is one of those books appearing only a few times in your life that wring emotion out of you whether you like it or not. A heart-breaking, unforgettable and life-enriching experience.

Kudos to Pushkin Press for publishing a very handsome new edition. I'd also like to praise the translation, too, by Trevor and Phyllis Blewitt. At no time is there even a hint that you're reading a translation - something that occurred to me only after finishing the book. On the contrary, it seems to me that the elegance of the language and all the magnificent virtues that contribute to Zweig's humanity and genius have been faithfully rendered. The proof is in my twin disappointments; coming to the end, and learning that there are no further full-length novels by Zweig. I'll definitely be reading all his other works, though.
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73 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful novel in a fine presentation 25 Jan 2005
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I came to this book with some trepidation, firstly because it looked rather long and dense (long is fine, but long and dense maybe not) and secondly because the topic of a mistaken love affair is not really up my street. However, it was the January choice of my book group, so I had to read it. Within a few pages I was hooked. The novel, set in the Austro-Hungarian empire in the early part of the 20th century, tells the story of a young second lieutenant who finds himself embroiled in a relationship with a partly paralysed 17 year old girl. Her family encourage the relationship and it is only when it is too late that he discovers the girl's love for him and also the impossibility of breaking her heart at a time she is about to embark on a new course of medical treatment, so she can get better "just for him". The novel is not just about love, it is about obsession, guilt, and the way the expectations of others can so easily dominate our choices so that we act as others expect us rather than as we want to. It is interesting to view this story in the light of modern assertiveness training, because all the way through the reader can see that Toni, the young officer, is subjugating his own needs for the needs of someone to whom he has no obligations whatsoever - he is in fact ruled only by her fantasies and the expectations of her father and sister.
The novel is remarkably suspenseful because the plot unfolds gradually and at each stage the reader cringes as the net of this sick love slowly ensnares him. It is full of strong characters: the doctor who treats the young woman and slowly enveigles Toni in her treatment regime; the old brutal colonel who turns out to be more wise than the other characters; the girls father who's whole life is a quest for his daughter's well-being.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Between Freud and Christ 24 July 2004
It is impossible to commend this wonderful book too highly. All praise to the Pushkin Press for letting us have this and so many other great, neglected works available in translation. The plot is utterly gripping - there are no chapter divisions and none are needed for one turns the pages feverishly and breathlessly, yet space for the profoundest reflections on love, pity and sympathy opens in the flow so that there is never a claustrophobic sense. In its pyschological penetration, in its understanding of the relations of the moral, the religious and the sensuous and the corruption that can arise in each sphere it is up there with Kierkegaard or Dostoyevsky. Deeply embedded in the structure of the Austrian Empire the book is absolutely universal with an intensity and breadth of sympathy for its characters that seems to belong at once to the hothouses world of Freud and and to the inspirations of the mystics. Don't read anything else before you read this.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful
Many have already given detail as regards the general plot. This book is an interesting and thought-provoking read. Read more
Published 2 days ago by CeeCeeBee
5.0 out of 5 stars I have a Kindle but some books just read better in hardcover — Don't...
Brilliant— Zweig puts you right in the picture, very emotional from start to finish, if it's laughs you want well you will not find them here. Read more
Published 8 days ago by MR F PENNINGTON
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Service perfect. Thanks.
Published 12 days ago by Dolleen MacLennan
5.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling and evocative - recent past and ever present regrets .....
Dramatic. Exciting - why has no-one made this into a film, or better still, a thrilling tv series with multitudinous cliff -hangers? Read more
Published 25 days ago by sparkling
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
This book intrigued after reading the reviews. It's a very interesting study of what can happen when a regular person feels sorry for someone else and allows this to dictate their... Read more
Published 1 month ago by The Grimshh
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Bought as a gift which was well received.
Published 1 month ago by Beemitch
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fantastic. Thank-you.
Published 1 month ago by andrew stone
5.0 out of 5 stars ... was on our book group list and we all loved it!
This was on our book group list and we all loved it!!
Published 1 month ago by Lucia Duthie
3.0 out of 5 stars MC2
Although an interesting story, I cannot agree that it is well written. Many thoughts are repeated ad infinitum, which eventually led to my skipping through many pages. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars 'that compassionate lie had made her happy, and to make someone happy...
This is the story of a dashing young Austrian lieutenant, just prior to the first World War. Stationed on the Hungarian border, he is thrilled to be invited to the castle of a... Read more
Published 2 months ago by sally tarbox
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