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Twenty Four Hours in the Life of a Woman: AND The Royal Game Paperback – 30 Jun 2006

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 133 pages
  • Publisher: Pushkin Press (30 Jun. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1901285618
  • ISBN-13: 978-1901285611
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 13.3 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,012,428 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


In the 1920s and 30s, Stefan Zweig was one of the most famous writers in the world. Thanks to the enterprising Pushkin Press, it is now possible to read the novellas on which his reputation must finally depend... He deserves to be famous again, and for good. --Paul Bailey, The Times Literary Supplement

About the Royal Game: Perhaps the best chess story ever written, perhaps the best about any game. Never mind that you may never have moved a pawn to King four; the story will grip you. --The Economist

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. His stories and novellas were collected in 1934. Zweig travelled widely, living in Salzburg between the wars, and enjoying literary fame. In 1934, 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.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

By KaleHawkwood TOP 100 REVIEWER on 30 Sept. 2015
Format: Paperback
The first of these two stories from either end of Zweig's career highlight his concern for the lives and desires of women, and the way in which an obsession can develop from a random set of circumstances, and become close to insanity.
Twenty-four Hours...is a not untypical tale of a woman in love and despair, translated by Anthea Bell, and is as essential - or as disposable, if your name is Michael Hofmann - as anything by this perceptively wily writer.
The Royal Game is something very special indeed, a story whose worth should be trumpeted from the rooftops.
Ostensibly, it is a tale of a game (or several) of chess aboard an ocean liner bound for Buenos Aires, involving a surly, monosyllabic international chess master, the reserved but necessarily inquisitive narrator, and a man whose incidental brilliance at the titular 'royal game' hides a deeper, tragic truth.
I was riveted by this story, and you will be too, whether you know anything about chess or not (though a slight knowledge might help). It touches on not only obsession, but also near-insanity, the uniquely odd foibles and character traits of certain chess masters, and - more important perhaps - the insidious tyranny of the Nazis in Europe in the early forties, when the tale was written: one of Zweig's last, strongly translated here by B.W. Huebsch in 1944, two years after the author and his wife commited suicide together in Brazil.
Zweig was, in my opinion, just about as important a writer of the early twentieth century as we have, and all his stories, which have now been comprehensively translated and newly published, are a treasure beyond price.
Here are two of the best.

Your move.
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Format: Paperback
On the surface the two novellas in this book are very similar, they are about lives ruined by obsession with a game, albeit one is roulette and the other is chess. They are, however, very different.

24 Hours in the Life of a Woman is much more about passion (of a woman for a man, and of a man for gambling) whereas The Royal Game is about the struggle between Dr B, who has lived entirely in his imagination, and Czentovic, who is uncouth and unimaginative away from the chessboard. The second story could be seen as an allegory of the brutality of Nazism (which Zweig fled) and its suppression of thought and the intellect.

The difficulty with 24 Hours is that it deals with a subject that had to be treated with some delicacy in the period it was written (1927). The emphasis is on the emotional aspects of the relationship, so the physical side is neglected. As a result, the unnamed Englishwoman's sudden infatuation is portrayed as irrational, but it is implied that it is the sort of thing that might happen to a woman, but not to a rational creature such as a man. Some readers might find this a bit sexist, although in fairness the Polish aristocrat's obsessive gambling is no less irrational, and far more damaging to himself and others.

The Royal Game is much more about the danger of disassociating both imagination from reality (which happens to Dr B' during his incarceration) and reality from imagination (as personified by the lumbering Czentovic). Zweig is on surer ground here, and the characters of the protagonists more clearly drawn.

The format of the two stories is similar, they are told by an unnamed narrator who is removed from the main events.
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Format: Paperback
Trying to be objective because I am a fan of Zweig, this is a very good novel.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars 12 reviews
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best weaving with words and emotions. 24 Oct. 2006
By Rina Levitt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I read this book in my teens. The book was on my parents' book shelves. It was a Hebrew translation from the German. When this was translated, Israel was just reborn, after 2000 years of exile. The Hebrew language was a dormant language that came to life. I am now passed my midlife & will never forget the strong impression that this story made on me. The strongest image that was stuck in my head is the one where the woman in the story was able to sense the mood, agitation or thrill that was expressed in the hands, without looking at the face,of the young Casino gambler. The story is flowing & as in all of Stefan Zweig's writings, it penetrates to the heart & sole of the characters. It is a work of art, like the most beautiful weaved carpet. Few weeks ago, I was visiting my brother's house & saw the book that I read as teenager on his shelf. I was so excited. I borrowed it from him & reread it in one gulp. The thing that amazed me was that after so many years, I felt like I never left the book, just that the translation felt to me so archaic. It actually added an unusual taste of nostalgia. I tried to get the book in a new translation in Hebrew, but couldn't find it. There are new translations of Stefan Zweig into Hebrew, but, unfortunately, as other reviewers commented on, this amazingly sensitive writer is not getting the place that he deserves to have. It is such a pity. Luckily enough, my English reading is as good as my Hebrew, so I looked for it in Amazon & found it. In my old Hebrew translation, there are 2 more stories. A very special one is "Burning Secret". This is as sensitive & cleverly weaved as the "24 hours in the life of a woman".

Don't miss any of the above.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Little Gem of a Novel 13 Sept. 2003
By L. Young - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Perhaps not as psychologically compelling and taut as some of Zweig's other work, this novella is still worth reading for it's fine writing. At a hotel in Monte Carlo in the days after World War I, a group of wealthy travelers are shocked to learn that a married woman of their set has suddenly left her husband and family on the arms of a seducer whom she has known less then twenty-four hours. Each guest chimes in with their opinion of the woman's extraordinary behavior. Our narrator expresses his understanding of the woman's actions while the others vehemently condemn the lady. Suddenly he finds himself the confidante of an older woman who is in the group. She tells him the tale of how twenty years earlier she too had been drawn to an intense younger man who she observed in the casino one evening. Zweig explores the motivations and the ramifications of a sudden act of passion.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Little Gem 1 Nov. 2010
By Kiwifunlad - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I have yet to read anything by Stefan Zweig which I have not thoroughly enjoyed and this, my sixth book, is no exception.
Twenty Four Hours in the Life of a Woman is not a novel but a beautifully crafted story. Zweig is a master at drawing wonderful characters. Inititially set in a small guest house in the French Riviera in the 1920's where the narrator is befriended by a 67 year old English widow who becomes the principal character of the book. She relates to the narrator an event that took place 20 odd years earlier in Monte Carlo. No surprises for guessing that the Casino features in her account. Zweig's description of the widow watching the gamblers is brilliantly evoked. She is mesmerised by one of the gamblers, a young Polish aristocarat and subsequently unfolds a fascinating and hauntingly realistic chain of events. Written in 1927 and mostly set in about 1900 this gem of a story has definitely weathered the passage of time.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A gambler 15 April 2005
By Luc REYNAERT - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This story is Stefan Zweig's version of 'The Gambler'. Although it doesn't rival Dostoyevsky's portrait, it is certainly a very worth-while read.

A woman falls under the spell of a gambler who lost his fortune and is on the verge of committing suicide. She tries desperately to save him.

This is an impressive short novel, because of the strong emerging feelings which erupt like volcanoes and leave the main characters totally upset. The endgame and the end are stunning.

It is one of Stefan Zweig's most successful short novels, although he is handicapped by the comparison with Dostoyevsky.
5.0 out of 5 stars also part of other collections 6 Feb. 2012
By tourist in the city - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"Twenty Four Hours In The Life Of A Woman" is a part of Selected Stories, the Pushkin Press 2009 edition of Zweig. It is also in Pushkin's 2006 Twenty Four Hours / The Royal Game.

If you are lucky, you can see Berenice Bejo in 24 Heures de la Vie d'Une Femme (Original French Version DVD).

If none of the above is satisfactory, there is, of course ...
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