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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

THE  HISTORICAL  NOVEL                        385

hating the clash of conflicts of today and yet drawn at least to their
orbit by intellectual rank and race. His denunciation of war rang
out at the very height of the War from his drama Jeremias (1917);
here again there is obvious identification of author and hero. Other
dramas of his are Tersites (1907) and an adaptation of Ben Jonson's
Volpone (1927). His short stories have again mastery of form, but
they sometimes glide over feeling rather than probe into it. In
ErstesErkbnis (1911) there are distressing studies of the awakening
of sexual knowledge in a delicate boy and in girls. Sordid sexual
experience gives the note of Amok (1923); in Verwirrung der Ge-
fuhle (1926) there is more of the complicated mental shock of
passion. Sternstunden der Menschfait (1928) are five historical minia-
tures; they condense episodes vital to the progress of culture and
are by their nature at the rim of the work by which Stefan Zweig
has won his public all over the world - his historical novels or
rather romanced history. Joseph Fouche (1929) and Mark Antoinette
(1932; a great success as a film) indicate his formula: against a
swiftly moving and vivid historical background thrilling episodes
of personal feeling. For British readers this formula achieves its
best - and worst - in Maria Stuart (193 5): there is the traditional
German contrast of the two queens - Mary is the passionate lover,
while Elizabeth is the erotically malformed half-woman, "mutil-
ated in spirit because abnormal in body', whose relations with her
lovers are torture because she cannot give herself wholly. In 1935
Stefan Zweig emigrated to England, where he was naturalized;
in 1942 he committed suicide together with his second wife in
Rio de Janeiro. He tells the story of his life in Die Welt von gestern
(1944); this is not a consecutive and consistent autobiography; it
is more a book of memories with Zweig (to use his own term in
the preface) as the pivot. His private and intimate life is actually
cut out; there is nothing of the love affair which led to his second
marriage or of his matrimonial affairs; these come out in the book
published after his death by his first wife, Friderike Zweig: Stefan
Zweig me ich ihn erlebte (1947) and in Stefan Zweig - FHdmke Zweig
(1952), his correspondence stretching from 1912 to 1942. His pos-
thumously published Balzac (1948) had been planned as a magnum
opus\ he had been working at it for ten years, and it was not finished
when he died. Balzac's life is treated as a tragedy with comic relief;
and the comic elements in the sordid story detract from Balzac's
stature as a novelist. The failure of the book is due to the psycho-

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