Journey into the past by Stefan Zweig

journey into the past

Journey into the past by Stefan Zweig

Austrian fiction

Original title –  Widerstand der Wirklichkeit

Translator – Anthea Bell

Source – Personnel copy

I couldn’t do two weeks about Pushkin press without at least once reviewing or mentioning Stefan Zweig ,as he is the writer most associated with them in my mind anyway .I have perviously reviewed his books Letter to an Unknown women   and although not published by Pushkin press the post office girl .I have also read Amok for this fortnight .In my mind Zweig is a true one-off writer that thanks to Pushkin we have gotten to read in English .At the height of his fame in the 1920’s and 1930’s he was one of the best known writers in the world .This is one of a number of books by Stefan Zweig that is published by Pushkin press .

“There you are !” He went to meet her with arms outstretched , almost flung wide.”There you are ” he repeated , his voice climbing the scale from surprise to delight ever more clearly ,while his tender glance lingered on her beloved form “I was almost afraid you wouldn’t come !”

“Do you really have so little faith in me ? ”

Ludwig arrives and meets the woman in the opening lines

So too the Journey into the past was only discovered in the seventies and published in the Germany .Ludwig is German engineer and in love with a women whom happens to be married ,but he is sent for a short trip to Mexico to work on opening a mine ,but whilst he is doing this the first world war breaks out leaving him stranded in Mexico .We see him recalling the past as he returns to see if his love is still there what has happened to her .As he travels back to his homeland the memories of their  past  as they await meeting again on the station . The narrative drifts through time past and present mingle .

They left the station , but no sooner were they out of the door than stormy noise met their ears , drums rattling , the shrill sound of pipes – it was a patriotic demonstration of veterans  associations and students in support of the Fatherland .Like a wall on the move ,marching in ranks four abreast ,flags flying ,men in military garb were goose stepping along ,feet thudding heavily on the ground .

The early signs of the Nazis and Ludwig and the woman leave the station .

Well this was a book that supposedly Zweig had worked and reworked this novella for over twenty years ,you can see how it has been cut and edited at just 81 pages it actually feels more like a 300 page novel than a short novella .Zweig has left fact bare and concentrated on the feeling ,memories and broken love  and dreams .Ludwig was a different character than I had previously encountered in Zweig works as in the previous book I have read he has mainly used female characters .I loved the sense of lose and longing we got from Ludwig a man caught by time ,the woman isn’t named we know she is married to a councillor so is maybe an older muse for the young Ludwig whom is in his mid twenties .You also see the changing times and how Zweig worked more recent times into the narrative like the fact when Ludwig arrives back there is a nazi parade taking place almost a small signpost to the future events that drew Austria into the second world war .If you love a tale of lost dreams and loves and longing this is one that you will love .

Have you read Zweig ,if so which is you favourite book ?

Letter from an unknown woman by Stefan Zweig

Letter from an unkown women Zweig

Letter from an Unkown by Stefan Zweig

Translator – Anthea Bell

Original title – Brief einer Unbekannten

Source – library

Well I have reviewed review a Zweig before the post office girl ,I really enjoyed that book and wonder why it had taken three years to review another book by him I did read a personnel copy of Journey into the past but as usual i was rather over ambitious in my reading and quite slow in my reviewing so my review of that will be up at some point probably later in year when German lit month runs round again any way to this book which is a new collection of one long novella and three short novellas / short stories any way the all have female as a main character or narrator I think that is the main connection between them .Also love in its many forms links them .

I have taken a fifth candle over to the table where I am writing to you now .For U cannot be alone with my dead child without weeping my heart out ,and to whom am I speak, in this terrible hour if not to you ,who were and are everything to me ?

Part of the letter from the unknown woman .

Letter from an unkown woman is the main story in the book and the main one I am going to mentions as of the four piece in this book it struck me as the strongest in both Narrative and Plot .The story revolves around a letter that has been sent to a famous writer .A thirteen page letter from this women is a life story a young girl has a crush a famous writer ,she then grows works in a shop  ,yet over time ,this is actually his neighbour but he has never noticed her ,sad and love that has gone unreturned ,but then there is a meal and something else happens .Other stories see a women met a man she was once head or heels in love with but he has change since she last saw him into a total bore .

My dear Ellen,

I know you will be surprised to receive a letter from me after so long ; it must be five or perhaps even six years since I last wrote to you .I believe that then it was a letter of congratulations on your youngest daughters marriage .This time the occasion is not so festive ,and perhaps my need to confide the details of a strange encounter to you ,

A women tells her friend of meeting some one she once loved in The debt paid late .

These like the other books I’ve read by Stefan Zweig show the strength of his female voice I think of all the male writers I ve ever read Zweig’s female voice seems to be the best I ve read ,never sure if part of it is in my head I always have a fixed view of his women a sort mix of merchant ivory” room with a view “characters mixed with the females from Gustav Klimt’s paintings but any way it works for me .He is also very much of that age of looking at relationship and love the follow on from the like of Freud analysis in fiction what make females tick is very much his think ,also class which at the time he wrote still means a lot .I also  think ,Like in  a recent discussion with Tony about another prolific writer Llosa(I know he is modern and latin american but he writes a lot of good books ) ,Zweig is a master of good writing ,steady  maybe not spectacular .I know in some places his writing has been discussed as overrated but unfortunately I am in the other camp that feels he is an important writer that needs to be kept in the public eye .Ok he may not be a Porsche (But we all want a 911 as a kid ,well I did as they are flash and fast ,but on the whole unpractical for everyday life ,sorry to any readers that on one ) no Zweig is an AUDI( reliable, dependable and a car that goes past and you say I like one of them ) so I hope you get my meaning he is a writer that no matter which book it is a short story ,novella or novel you seem to finish feeling you’ve been in the hand of a master .

Have you a favourite book by Him ?

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