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The Impossible Exile

Stefan Zweig at the End of the World

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An original study of exile, told through the biography of Austrian writer Stefan Zweig
By the 1930s, Stefan Zweig had become the most widely translated living author in the world. His novels, short stories, and biographies were so compelling that they became instant best sellers. Zweig was also an intellectual and a lover of all the arts, high and low. Yet after Hitler’s rise to power, this celebrated writer who had dedicated so much energy to promoting international humanism plummeted, in a matter of a few years, into an increasingly isolated exile—from London to Bath to New York City, then Ossining, Rio, and finally Petrópolis—where, in 1942, in a cramped bungalow, he killed himself.
The Impossible Exile tells the tragic story of Zweig’s extraordinary rise and fall while it also depicts, with great acumen, the gulf between the world of ideas in Europe and in America, and the consuming struggle of those forced to forsake one for the other. It also reveals how Zweig embodied, through his work, thoughts, and behavior, the end of an era—the implosion of Europe as an ideal of Western civilization.

From Publishers Weekly

Feb 24, 2014 – Drawing on archival and personal material, Prochnik (Putnam Camp) examines the life of exiled Austrian writer Stefan Zweig (1881 1942) to shed light on the affliction of exile that redefined the lives and works of many intellectuals during WWII. Perhaps best known for his novellas, Zweig, who was Jewish, fled from his native Vienna and spent time abroad (New York, Rio de Janeiro), but was never able to adjust. While Zweig struggled to adapt to life in new countries, he also faced pressures as a high-profile intellectual who was expected to act as a political savior. Meanwhile, he continued to produce new work in a language that had been redefined by the Nazis and gradually went from being one of the world's most widely read authors to one of diminished recognition. The book pays close attention to Zweig's two wives: the first, Frederike, who would write a memoir that doubled as his biography; and Lotte, his amanuensis who would commit suicide by his side. Though Prochnik acts as a guiding consciousness throughout the book, he sometimes enters the narrative as a character, sharing personal anecdotes that provides glimpses into modern-day Austria. Though the book would have benefitted from more detailed discussions of Zweig's fiction and why it warrants revival, this original and often ruminative study should find an appreciative audience. Fans of filmmaker Wes Anderson might also be interested, as Anderson recently said that his new film, Grand Budapest Hotel, is "our own version of a Zweig story." Photos.
The Impossible Exile
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  • $10.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: May 06, 2014
  • Publisher: Other Press
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 408 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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