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The World of Yesterday [Paperback]

Stefan Zweig , Anthea Bell (translator)
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Jan 2011

Stefan Zweig's memoir The World of Yesterday, (Die Welt von Gestern) is a unique love letter to the lost world of pre-war Europe The famous autobiography is published by Pushkin Press, with a cover designed by David Pearson and Clare Skeats, as part of a new series of Zweig paperbacks. Translated by the award-winning Anthea Bell.

Stefan Zweig's memoir, The World of Yesterday recalls the golden age of pre- war Europe its seeming permanence, its promise and its devastating fall. Through the story of his life, and his relationships with the leading literary figures of the day, Zweig s passionate, evocative prose paints a stunning portrait of an era that danced brilliantly on the brink of extinction.
This new translation by the award- winning Anthea Bell captures the spirit of Zweig s writing in arguably his most important work, completed shortly before his death in a suicide pact with his wife in 1942.

The World of Yesterday is one of the greatest memoirs of the twentieth century, as perfect in its evocation of the world Zweig loved, as it is in its portrayal of how that world was destroyed.'
— David Hare

'This absolutely extraordinary book is more than just an autobiography. (...) This is a book that should be read by anyone who is even slightly interested in the creative imagination and the intellectual life, the brute force of history upon individual lives, the possibility of culture and, quite simply, what it meant to be alive between 1881 and 1942. That should cover a fair number of you.'
— Nicholas Lezard, Guardian

Translated from the German by Anthea Bell, Stefan Zweig's The World of Yesterday is published by Pushkin Press.

Stefan Zweig (1881-1942) was born in Vienna, into a wealthy Austrian-Jewish family. He studied in Berlin and Vienna and was first known as a poet and translator, then as a biographer. Zweig travelled widely, living in Salzburg between the wars, and was an international bestseller with a string of hugely popular novellas including Letter from an Unknown Woman, Amok and Fear.

In 1934, with the rise of Nazism, he moved to London, where he wrote his only novel Beware of Pity. He later moved on to Bath, taking British citizenship after the outbreak of the Second World War. With the fall of France in 1940 Zweig left Britain for New York, before settling in Brazil, where in 1942 he and his wife were found dead in an apparent double suicide.

Much of his work is available from Pushkin Press.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Pushkin Press; New edition (1 Jan 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906548676
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906548674
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,719 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Product Description

Review

"The World of Yesterday is one of the greatest memoirs of the twentieth century, as perfect in its evocation of the world Zweig loved, as it is in its portrayal of how that world was destroyed." --David Hare

"This absolutely extraordinary book is more than just an autobiography. (...) This is a book that should be read by anyone who is even slightly interested in the creative imagination and the intellectual life, the brute force of history upon individual lives, the possibility of culture and, quite simply, what it meant to be alive between 1881 and 1942. That should cover a fair number of you." --Nicholas Lezard

"His memoir, The World of Yesterday, is one of his best works, a marvellous recapturing of a Europe that Hitler and his thugs destroyed. Zweig seems to have known everyone, and writes about the great figures of his day with insight, sympathy and, most unusually for a writer, modesty." --John Banville

About the Author

STEFAN ZWEIG was born in 1881 in Vienna, a member of a wealthy Austrian-Jewish family. He studied in Berlin and Vienna and was first known as a poet and translator, then as a biographer. Zweig travelled widely, living in Salzburg between the wars, and enjoyed literary fame. His stories and novellas were collected in 1934. In the same year, with the rise of Nazism, he briefly moved to London, taking British citizenship. After a short period in New York, he settled in Brazil where in 1942 he and his wife were found dead in bed in an apparent double suicide.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
64 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A moving threnody for a shattered civilization 5 Feb 2010
By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
In the Introduction to his book Stefan Zweig rightly says that no generation in recent times had undergone such a series of cataclysms, each breaking bridges with an earlier period, as had his own. He had lived not only in one world of yesterday, but in several, and it is these worlds he sets out to describe.

He was born, a Jew, in 1881 into a cosmopolitan and tolerant Vienna and into a world of utter political and economic security, confident in steady progress in society and in science. It knew the douceur de vivre (except that unmarried young men and especially young women led a sexual life which could find an outlet only in prostitution), and where culture - no longer under the patronage of the Court, but under that of the Jewish bourgeoisie - was more honoured throughout society than was wealth. The culture of the older generation was challenged by the avant-garde, with which Zweig and his fellow-students, even while still schoolboys in a stultifying educational system, were knowledgeably, passionately and actively engaged. Hugo von Hoffmansthal and Rilke were their lodestars. The universities were little better: Zweig was only a nominal student at the universities of Vienna and Berlin: his real intellectual life lay elsewhere. Already at the age of 19 he had the first of several articles accepted for the feuilleton section of the prestigious Neue Freie Presse in Vienna (of whose editor, Theodore Herzl, he gives a wonderful account). In Berlin he was looking for (and found) a wider circle - socially and intellectually - than in the somewhat inbred bourgeois and mainly Jewish milieu in which he had moved in Vienna.
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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable autobiography 9 Sep 2006
By Luc REYNAERT TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Zweig's aim was to compose an eyewitness report on the first part of the twentieth century in order to save the horrendous truth for the next generations.

It is a shocking report about what he calls the 'Apocalypse': terror, war, revolutions, inflation, famine, epidemics, emigration, the rise of bolshevism, fascism and the most horrific plague of all: nationalism.

He gives us a compelling story of contrasts: the soldiers in the trenches and the arms merchants with their luxury life; English unemployed in five star hotels in Salzburg because they could afford a luxury life on the continent with their unemployment benefits; the brothels and the suicides because of syphilis (Eros Matutina); and the desertion of the Kaiser as a thief in the night at the end of the war, after driving millions of his compatriots into a certain death.

He also relates his encounters with fellow writers like Gide, Rolland, Rilke or Verhaeren.

A moving, outspoken, penetrating and emotional report.

A masterpiece.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Old Europe 3 Feb 2009
Format:Paperback
This is a lovely book. Stefan Zweig included the words `An Autobiography...' in its sub-title. True, but the subject of this autobiography is not he but Europe. He deliberately gave none but the barest personal account of himself or any of his friends.
Half the book is concerned with the Europe from 1895 to 1914. The son of a prosperous Jewish family, Zweig grew up in the Vienna of God and the Emperor Franz Josef. Being Jewish then was incidental to being Viennese. It was a city where opera, theatre and music were the basis of everyday life; news of catastrophes elsewhere did not penetrate the Viennese well-padded existence. The Austro-Hungarian empire's lingual and national differences were harmonised by the common love of music.
On leaving school, Zweig determined on a literary career and, while he travelled around Europe, rejoiced in the differences between countries. The Viennese landlady would always be helpful but not obsessed with tidiness, whereas in Berlin his apartment was spotlessly maintained by the Prussian landlady, who never forgot to add two pfennigs to his bill if she sewed a button on his trousers. Paris during the Belle Époque was a city for the young. There, they breathed the very atmosphere of youth. Like every young man who spent a year there, Zweig carried away an incomparably happy memory that lasted for all his time. London by contrast was polite and, if the truth were known, a bit stuffy.
Europe before the War may have been golden, but it was not Eden. European nations had become increasingly prosperous over the previous forty years. However the position of women had scarcely advanced. Even wealthy women were constrained by the dictate of fashion's handicapping their physical mobility.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zuper Zweig 8 Jan 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you havent read Zweig then I beg you to do so.This is a staggering historical autobiography from the latter part of the 19th century to the first half of the 20th.
Stefan Zweig is one of the most underestimated writers of recent times.His 'Burning Secret' is a wonderful novella.
Bob Rowland
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65 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BEST OF ALL TIMES 31 Jan 2003
Format:Paperback
For me the best book of all times. Zweig "World of Yesterday" is an unforgettable classic, witch should be mandatory in any high school. The best-selling writer in "yesterday world", world of Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Mann and any other great writers, he could be happy that his work is not granted in "today world", world of Harry Potter, and similar books.
This book is much more then autobiography, it's a story of one time, it's a vivid, moving and nostalgic portrayal of Europe before wars, it's a story about intellectual brotherhood witch tried to prevent nationalistic madness that destroyed the Europe and the World, twice.
It is a story about what Zweig calls the "Apocalypse": war, revolutions, inflation, famine, epidemics, emigration, the rise of bolshevism, fascism and the most horrific of all: nationalism.
Zweig commits a suicide after he finished this work (1942), he stay in "World of Yesterday".
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The World of Yesterday
On reading this book, my first thought is that this is much more than a biography. It is a portrait of an era and a love letter to Stefan Zweig’s beloved Europe; written after he... Read more
Published 11 days ago by S Riaz
5.0 out of 5 stars The best and the worst of the first half of the twentieth century...
Zweig beautifully writes his memories of growing up in the artistic privileged paradise of Vienna at the turn of the century, and there making his way as a talented writer. Read more
Published 1 month ago by michael
3.0 out of 5 stars Yesterday indeed
Like many no doubt I picked this up on the back of Grand Budapest Hotel. Can't say I got very far with it though.
Published 1 month ago by TL
4.0 out of 5 stars Viennese culture pre-worldl war two.
Zweig describes the life and experiences of a clever Jewish boy in the hot-house literary circles of Vienna at the height of Austrian Empire. Read more
Published 2 months ago by joseph graham
5.0 out of 5 stars An unusual memoir
An unusual memoir by a highly proficient writer. Already knowing the history of the period, and of Zweig's eventual suicide, makes this a poignant read.
Published 4 months ago by Elizabeth Frazer
4.0 out of 5 stars Zweig biography
Brilliantly written biography of Stefan Zweig who lived from the late 19th til the 1940's.Born into a well to do jewish Viennese family Zweig had a great formal education and loved... Read more
Published 6 months ago by A. B. G. Camps
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece.
Reading this masterpiece you get a sense of how things were for sensitive intellectuals during the turmoil of the 20th century. Stefan Zweig ranks with Hesse and Mann.
Published 6 months ago by pgo
5.0 out of 5 stars The world of yesterday
I have read this book many times and I find it interesting and touching. The writing is superb! Good for people visiting Vienna.
Published 7 months ago by Maria Rosa Madsen
5.0 out of 5 stars end of an era
Stefan Zweig in The World of Yesterday writes of the favourable world of late nineteenth century Europe and the decline into the mayhem of two world wars. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Mr. Robert Marsland
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine humanity
A journey of a man, aware, sensitive and intelligent, tracing a thread of reason in a time that descended into the rule of thugs. Read more
Published 8 months ago by SW BECKETT-DOYLE
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