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The Post-Office Girl (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – April 15, 2008
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“An exhilarating ski run of poverty, joy and misery... it is the girl's ecstatic naivety and Zweig's sparkling prose that makes the old stories so sweetly fresh and, when the whole dream collapses, so devastatingly sad”. --The Sunday Times (UK)
"In The Post-Office Girl Stefan Zweig explores the details of everyday life in language that pierces both brain and heart...The story is poignant, painful, and must be one of fiction’s darkest indictments of how poverty destroys hope, enjoyment, beauty, brightness and laughter, and how money, no matter how falsely, provides ease and delight." --The Spectator (UK)
"This is a fascinating depiction of the effects of history on individual lives." --The Financial Times
"The Post Office Girl is a fine novel and an excellent place to start if you are new to this great Austrian novelist. It is a powerful social history, describing in moving detail the social impact of the First World War, and the extreme poverty in which so many people were forced to live. It shows up the challenge to European civilisation of the early Thirties and the failure of humanism, in which Zweig believed until the end of his life. And it is remarkable for the bleak interior worlds it depicts of anxiety, self-doubt, depression and disintegration. Zweig succeeded in taking the most complex concepts of psychoanalysis and bringing them vividly to life." --The Telegraph
"Stefan Zweig was a late and magnificent bloom from the hothouse of fin de siecle Vienna...The posthumous publication of a Zweig novel affords an opportunity to revisit this gifted writer...The Post-Office Girl is captivating." --The Wall Street Journal
"... nowhere else in his fiction does Zweig confront the legacy of the Great War with as deep a social reach or as detailed a human sympathy as he does in The Post-Office Girl... we are lucky to have the book, not only for its devastating picture of postwar Austrian life but also because it represents so radical a departure from Zweig's other fiction as to signal the existence of a hitherto unsuspected literary personality..." —William Deresiewicz, The Nation
"[In this] ... beautiful translation by Joel Rotenberg.... Stefan Zweig finds a universal story of psychological struggle and spiritual testing in a bitter but humane indictment of class inequality. He finds a love story, of a sort, in a quest story, and a quest story in a love story. He finds anger in compassion, and compassion in anger; beauty in suffering, and suffering in beauty." --The New York Observer
"[Zweig is a] writer who understands perfectly the life he is describing, and who has great analytic gifts . . . " –Stephen Spender, The New York Review of Books
"Always [Zweig] remains essentially the same, revealing in all . . . mediums his subtlety of style, his profound psychological knowledge and his inherent humaneness." –Barthold Fles, The New Republic
"His writing reveals his sympathy for fellow human beings." –Ruth Franklin, London Review of Books
“The experience of reading Zweig is not so much of entering the world of the story as of plunging inward and dreaming the story.” –Rachel Cohen, Bookforum
“A brilliant writer.” –Louis Kronenberger, The New York Times
“Admired by readers as diverse as Freud, Einstein, Toscanini, Thomas Mann and Herman Goering.” –Edwin McDowell, The New York Times
About the Author
Joel Rotenberg has produced NYRB original translations for Stefan Zweig’s Chess Story and Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s The Lord Chandos Letter.
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Still threatening to devour me, opens wide,
To which the hel l I suffer seems a heaven."
John Milton, Paradise Lost
There are some books that you can finish, put back down on the table and five-minutes later have it virtually erased from your consciousness. Stefan Zweig's "The Post-Office Girl" stayed with me long after I put the book down. It is a brilliantly crafted book that looks at the mind-boggling despair that can crush the soul out of just about anyone. What makes the book memorable is the fact that Zweig does not write with an overwhelming appeal to pathos. No, instead, Zweig is direct and his narrative manages to convey this sense of despair without drowning the reader in rhetorical devices aimed at soliciting sympathy for his characters.
The setting is post World War I Austria in the 1920s. The Austro-Hungarian empire has been dismantled after the Treaty of Versailles and Austria, like her ally Germany, is suffering the `economic consequences of the peace'. The Post-Office Girl is Christine Hoflehner. At the war's outset, Christine and her family enjoyed a comfortable middle-class existence in Vienna. But the war and the economic suffering brought on by the hyper-inflation of the 1920s has booted Christine out of Vienna and her middle class life. She and her mother live at the poverty level in a one-room bed-sitter in a village two hours from Vienna. Christine works as a low-ranking postal official in the town's post office. As the story opens she's in her 20s and merely going through the motions. But her robot-like existence is shattered when she receives a telegram (a big event) from an aunt, her mother's sister, who left Austria before the war and married a rich American businessman.Read more ›
Zweig wrote The Post-Office Girl in the early 1930s, working on it during years that Hitler rose to power and that saw Zweig, as a Jew, forced into exile. He appears to have considered the book finished, and yet he left it untitled and made no effort to publish. Why? My own hunch is that it was just too close to the bone. Zweig was famous all over the world as a writer of fiction and non-fiction and as a public intellectual.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Dizzying rise and fall of outsider in group of Europeans staying at a hotel. The outcast heroine never recovers and grasps for more with an equally cynical and disillusioned... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Paul T. Scheller
This is a hard read. While the author is a wonderful writer, the main character is such a whiner and the dense reading is a challenge. It has an interesting ending.Published 2 months ago by Phyllis Cohen
Extremely well written.
I plan to read more books the author has written.
I think the name of book belies seriousness of book.
It's clear why this book is a classic. It's a great exploration into characters who are defined by circumstance despite internal motivations. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Kindle Customer
Zwieg is so masterful at revealing the baseness in all of us--which we see through his characters. It is so easy to see where the protagonist goes wrong and I wanted to save her... Read morePublished 5 months ago by PugPeople
I was impressed at first. Very good writer. The ending was sort of a letdown for me.Published 6 months ago by V.
It's a good book detailing the challenges of poverty in post WWI Austria, and a girls rise and fall from poor to desirable new money to poverty again.Published 7 months ago by Nathan Phillips