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Journey Into the Past (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – November 23, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
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“The latest novella available to English-speaking readers, Journey Into the Past—found among Zweig’s papers after his death and now published by New York Review Books Classics in a masterly translation by Anthea Bell and with an introduction by André Aciman…” —Words Without Borders
"Journey into the Past is vintage Stefan Zweig—lucid, tender, powerful and compelling.” —Chris Schuler, The Independent
“The art is in the telling…a powerful love story…Excellent Foreword by writer Paul Bailey” —David Herman, The Jewish Chronicle
"One hardly knows where to begin in praising Zweig’s work. One gets the impression that he actively preferred to write about women, and about the great moral crises that send shivers down the spines of polite society" —Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian
"My advice is that you should go out at once and buy his books" —Anthony Daniels, The Sunday Telegraph
“a brilliant writer." —The New York Times
"Admired by readers as diverse as Freud, Einstein, Toscanini, Thomas Mann and Herman Goering." —The New York Times
"A remarkable tour de force…this is a masterclass in the language of beautiful storytelling." —Paul Blezard, The Lady
"Zweig belongs with three very different masters who each perfected the challenging art of the short story and the novella: Maupassant, Turgenev and Chekhov" —Paul Bailey
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Top Customer Reviews
This is of some importance because André Aciman's introduction here in the NYRB edition, although enthusiastic and insightful, reveals far too much of the plot, and would have best been switched with translator Anthea Bell's afterword. First time readers are hereby cautioned. Indeed, it would be best to read the novella first, and the supplementary material after.
That said, Mr. Blumenau (and others) are quite right: Zweig is an important writer of the first rank. On par with close contemporaries Arthur Schnitzler and Joseph Roth, Zweig is a product of that enormously rich and fertile time/place of Vienna in the years just before World War I. And even if `Journey Into The Past' is firmly set in the German speaking world, its vision is much broader.
For the twenty or so years preceding the Great War, there was an enormous confluence (with significant parallels) in the music, painting, and literature of Vienna. So much so that its clear to even a casual observer that Egon Scheile, Arthur Schnitzler, and Gustav Mahler all arose from the same milieu, that heady time of Freud and Schoenberg, the growth of socialist movements, and the nationalist intrigues which inevitably lead to war.
Zweig's posthumously published `Journey Into The Past' concerns the return of a young man to the home of a woman he loved many years before. She is older, and is now widowed. Circumstance heightened the intensity of their passion then while keeping them from consummating their relationship. Yet the memory of each other and that time has not dimmed in either.Read more ›
In telling this story, the articulate Zweig focuses on Ludwig's obsessive attachment to the wife. The story moves rapidly, with Ludwig's reflections reaching immediate clarity before scooting onto the next point, which usually reads as both brilliantly spot-on and somehow inevitable. Nonetheless, JitP is first and foremost a story of obsessive love, which means Zweig does write toward such passages as:
"He felt a kind of bridal expectation, sweet and sensuous yet vaguely mingled with anticipatory fear of its own fulfillment, with the mysterious shiver felt when something endlessly desired suddenly comes physically close to the astonished heart. But he... must simply stay like this, carried on into the unknown as if in a dream, carried on by a strange torrent, without physical sensation and yet still feeling, desiring yet achieving nothing, moving on into his fate..."
In his final few paragraphs, Ludwig (SPOILER ALERT!) acknowledges the difficulty of restoring the past to life and the folly of assuming memory foretells the future.Read more ›
Ludwig, a young German of humble social origins, had fallen passionately in love with the wife of his wealthy industrialist employer, and she with him. Zweig - and his translators - have always excelled in descriptions of tempestuous emotions which sweep the reader along. Ludwig was sent on what was intended to be a two-year business mission to Mexico, but before the end of those two years the First World War had broken out, and it would be nine years before he returned to Germany and met her again, and the journey of the title is in part a train journey they take together from Frankfurt to Heidelberg. He was now married, and the industrialist had died. On the train he recalls the history of their relationship in the past. And now? And in the future?
One part of what lies ahead is when they came across a massive Nazi parade - just three years after the end of the First World War and twelve years before the Nazis came to power - as they left the station at Heidelberg. The novella itself was started in 1924, and Zweig probably worked on it as late as the 1930s. As the complete typescript was not found and then published (in a French translation) until 2008, it is impossible to know whether this episode, laden with menace, was part of the original draft. Zweig had always loathed war and the nationalism that gave rise to it, so it may well have been an example of his highly-strung prescience.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Read this after watching the movie based on it. Better than the movie.Published 3 months ago by Southern Son
I admired The World of Yesterday tremendously, a vivid and thoughtful portrait of European culture in all of its richness and energy from the late eighteenth century until the war... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Bruce Henricksen
It is the kind of writing that makes it very clear to the reader exactly what idea and emotions the author had in mind and wanted to get across.
Is anticipation of fulfillment more fulfilling than the imminent achievement thereof? What happens when reality cannot meet the pent up expectations of profound love? Read morePublished on May 7, 2014 by Otten
Ludwig begins a passionate affair with the wife of his employer but is relocated shortly after by the company to work in Mexico for two years. Read morePublished on April 13, 2014 by Sam Quixote
A European friend told me that Stefan Zweig was a well-known author. Since my very literary book club members and I had never come across his work, we read this book for our... Read morePublished on March 25, 2014 by Diana Rich
An ambitious young man, Ludwig, accepts an offer from his boss for a two year project in a foreign country in order to purchase and operate for the company a mineral deposit. Read morePublished on April 17, 2013 by Luc REYNAERT
This mercifully short self-indulgent piece of melodrama is over the top. Although the opening sentences promise a mature love story, what's delivered is a hand-wringing piece of... Read morePublished on March 4, 2013 by John Sollami