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Letter from an Unknown Woman Paperback – July 31, 1998

4.4 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“What did Zweig have that brought him the fanatical devotion of millions of readers, the admiration of Herman Hesse, the invitation to give the eulogy at the funeral of Sigmund Freud? To learn that, we would have to have a biography that illuminated all aspects of his work, that read all of his books, and that challenged, rather than accepted, the apparent modesty of his statements about his life and work.” – Benjamin Moser, Bookforum

In the 1920s and 30s, Stefan Zweig was one of the most famous writers in the world. Thanks to the enterprising Pushkin Press, it is now possible to read the novellas on which his reputation must finally depend." - Paul Bailey, Times Literary Supplement

"Touching and delightful. Those adjectives are not meant as faint praise. Zweig may be especially appealing now because rather than being a progenitor of big ideas, he was a serious entertainer, and an ardent and careful observer of habits, foibles, passions and mistakes." — A.O. Scott, The New York Times --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Stefan Zweig was born in 1881 in Vienna, into a wealthy Austrian-Jewish family. He studied in Berlin and Vienna and was first known as a poet and translator, then as a biographer. Between the wars, Zweig was an international bestseller with a string of hugely popular novellas including Letter from an Unknown Woman, Amok and Fear. In 1934, with the rise of Nazism, he left Austria, and lived in London, Bath and New York-a period during which he produced his most celebrated works: his only novel, Beware of Pity, and his memoir, The World of Yesterday. He eventually settled in Brazil, where in 1942 he and his wife were found dead in an apparent double suicide. Much of his work is available from Pushkin Press. --This text refers to the Unknown Binding edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Pushkin Press; 1st edition (July 31, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1901285057
  • ISBN-13: 978-1901285055
  • Shipping Weight: 3.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,330,362 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The only book I had ever read by Stefan Zweig is "The World of Yesterday," which is a fascinating memoir, not only of a man but of a time and place (Vienna at the turn of the 20th century). Now I see Zweig as a master of the short story as well. The best story in this collection is the eponymous novella, "Letter from an Unknown Woman," and, although written in 1922, it still packs a whallop today. The writing is exquisite and the story mesmerizing, but it is the unknown woman's quiet, yet all-consuming fascination with the young musician that grabs hold of the imagination and won't let go.What possesses her to give her life to a man she has only "met" on three rather mundane occasions? There's something very modern about this tale, even though it is rooted in the Vienna of Zweig's youth. I have ordered a copy of the Max Ophuls film (with Joan Fontaine and Louis Jourdan), which is also considered a masterpiece, and look forward to reading more of Zweig's stories, this time in the original German. The other three stories in the collection are also highly recommended.
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I have loved Zewig since I first read his works in my native language. Reading him in English, though, is such a treat. This is a terrific translation, just what the amazing work of Zweig deserves. Inhaling a work word after word is so fulfilling when every word is but a flavor of an amazing meal for the brain. I know I will reread this again.
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This gem seems not to be available in an English translation any more, more's the pity. Zweig's stories usually show amazing psychological insight. it is perhaps this sensitivity that led the twentieth-century Jewish Austrian, shipwrecked from an era mercilessly blown away by the tides of WWII, to suicide in exile.

If you like happy endings, this novella is not for you. This is an incredibly moving story of Passion with a capital P. Read it and reflect on the frailty of the human condition, and our eternal quest for something greater than ourselves.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Ok, so it's dated. So the language and characterization drips Viennese style saccharine at times. I loved it. Big emotions writ large are nothing if not breath-taking. I read Zweig's biography of Balzac first and adored it. This is like a sweet claret and chocolate after that grand meal, but who the hell cares.
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Admittedly, I was attracted to try this book as much by the low price ($1.99, Kindle) as I was by the erudite and positive reviews. It is a collection of four novellas, written primarily in first person form. The most famous is "Letter from an Unknown Woman", which leads off the collection, but I truthfully enjoyed all of them. Written and set in the early years of the 20th century, the dialogue and settings are consistent with that milieu, but nevertheless timeless in their story lines. Each of them portrays, in different ways, a compelling event, character, or life lesson, with elements of tragedy, but not overdone in that regard. They cover plots ranging from the (literally) lifelong obsession of a young teenage girl through adulthood who is obsessed with an older man who happens to take an apartment in the same building as her family. Even though her family moves away, her obsession never wavers and her whole life, focus, and thoughts center around this 'man of her dreams,' who has no knowledge of any of this. It goes beyond the simple story mechanics and edges into observations of the human psyche, in a very enlightening, somewhat macabre, but also very readable approach. The other stories, in their own way, portray "life lessons' - not in a preachy way, but through simple dialogue, leaving the impression to the reader. I can't think of a better way to introduce a change of pace and reading style into your book list which provides so much in so little reading time - around 2-3 hours.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I loved it my spouse thought it was so, so. His description of obsession in the characters was excellent. Of course its writing has to be viewed with the fact that it was written over 40 years ago. In the forties this was the basis for the movie "Letter from an Unknown Woman" starring Joan Fontaine.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I hadn't heard of Stefan Zweig until interviews on Charlie Rose brought up his name. I was intrigued and went to the library. I was delighted with his prose and contacted Amazon for more books. This is a powerful writer and good story teller.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It is difficult to rate everything because as some things are just a matter of taste. How do you rate taste? This book is a typical Zweig. He has so many things to share with us. I still haven’t come a cross a book by Zweig that I cannot recommend.

There are many hidden and obvious messages in this book that makes it worth while to read it.
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