Daily Bookshot: A Trio of Zweig



A Trio of Zweig, originally uploaded by Robert Burdock.

While I’ve been on a blogging break during these past couple of weeks I’ve also taken the opportunity to get a bit ‘freestyle’ with my reading – dipping in and out of whatever bookish delights have taken my fancy. And one of the authors who has taken my fancy for a long time now is Stefan Zweig. So I took advantage of this non-scheduled reading period to acquaint myself with the Austrian writer, picking up the book you see pictured on the right of today’s Daily Bookshot, Burning Secret.

It seems that something of a cult has grown for this classic author over recent years, and it’s a cult which has been greatly fuelled in the UK by publisher Pushkin Press. With the help of respected translator Anthea Bell, the small London-based indy publisher has worked tirelessly in bringing as many Zweig titles to translation as possible. And after reading Burning Secret – a story which focuses on a sexual predator’s endeavours to snare a middle-aged mother through cruelly befriending her son – I can see why they would bother to bring such a relatively unknown author out of obscurity, and offer him up to a wider English-speaking audience.

I will post up my complete afterthoughts on Burning Secret as soon as I can, but suffice it to say that Stefan Zweig has, through this book, revealed himself to me to be an astonishing writer. He seems to possess this incredible gift for capturing and projecting human emotion, and he does so with such profound astuteness. I kid you not dear reader, this literary creation rendered me speechless, which on its own is a mini miracle.

So far I’ve only had the pleasure of consuming Burning Secret but I have two other titles waiting in the wings for my eager consumption. On the left of the shot is Amok and Other Stories, a collection of four shorts which apparently focus on a series of ‘human dilemmas’, while at the top of the shot is Fear – a story about a woman who begins an affair which quickly turns sour. Needless to say I can’t wait to greedily devour both of these works, or indeed any of the other nine Zweig titles in Pushkin’s catalogue (one of which – The World of Yesterday, is a memoir). I only hope that they can live up to the high expectation that Burning Secret has set for them. Only time will tell I guess, but I’m confident that they will.

So are you yourself one of the myriad of readers who have already discovered the wonder and magic of Stefan Zweig? If you are then I’d love to hear your comments.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).

Comments

  1. The only one of the three volumes pictured which I’ve read is Amok. It’s very good indeed, and the only other thing I’ll say is not to read Anthea Bell’s afterword before you read the stories, as it’ll tell you what the four stories have in common, in spoiler-rific fashion.

    My favourite Zweig is one which is rarely feted: Twilight, a short piece of historical fiction about the (real) Marquise de Prie, and her exile from the Court of Louis XV. If you don’t believe me about how good it is, why not trust Guy Savage, who says that Twilight “made me a fan of Stefan Zweig for life”?

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)
      says:

      Thanks for the info John. I’ll look both of these titles out. That’s a heck of a recommendation from Guy! Can I humbly suggest checking out ‘Burning Secret’ as soon as you can? Knowing a little about your reading tastes I can wholeheartedly recommend it.
      Warmest
      Rob

    • That’s good – Twilight is the one I’ve got waiting on my bedside shelf!

      • Oh dear, too many Robs. I should make it clear that this is Rob writing, and not Rob.

        • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)
          says:

          Oh dear Rob I see what you mean. It looks like I’m having a conversation here with myself! Thanks heavens for Gravatars 🙂
          Warmest
          The better looking Rob

  2. I’m a fan of Zweig Rob, as you know, but weirdly haven’t read any of the novellas for which he is famous. I have enjoyed however his only novel, Beware Of Pity, his memoir, The World Of Yesterday and the recently translated Journey Into The Past. Reviews for all three can be found here.

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)
      says:

      Thank you William. I’m not going to pop along to read your reviews just yet. If I think that something is going to be good from the outset then I tend to keep away from reading reviews until the moment I’ve read the book myself (I know, it’s a weird idiosyncrasy that I have). I will however head on over just as soon as I’ve ticked off any of your listed titles. Am I excited? As always! 🙂
      Warmest
      Rob

  3. I’ve not read any, Zweig, but I did read another one of Pushkin Press’ publications last year (Château d’Argol by Julien Gracq) and while I didn’t really like the story, I was impressed with the quality of the little book. Very nicely put together. 🙂

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)
      says:

      Got to agree with you on quality Darren aside from two things 1) the edges seem to get scuffed really easily 2) let’s face it, at £10 a throw the books aren’t cheap!
      Warmest
      Rob

      • Well the one I read came from the library 😉 but I just loved the feel and the compactness. Felt designed to make you want to read it.

        Yeah, the prices are a tad steep, just had a look at The Book Depository for Burning Secret (as my library didn’t have any) and they’re still £6.50 a pop!

        Have to wait a bit, until I decide to splash out again.:)

  4. Stujallen (Twitter: stujallen)
    says:

    i ve the post office girl to read in next few weeks from library but not a bell translation

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)
      says:

      I’ve got a copy of that sitting here too Stu :). It’s not a Pushkin published title so that’s why it isn’t in this shot. It’s published by Sort of Books – translated by Joel Rotenberg. Is that the same copy as yours?

      • Stujallen (Twitter: stujallen)
        says:

        yes thats the copy rob

        • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)
          says:

          Haha….ace detective Rob to the rescue 🙂 It’s apparently taking the literary world by storm Stu, so I think we’re both in for a cracking read.
          Warmest
          Rob