Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $4.49 shipping
+ Free Shipping
The World of Yesterday Paperback – Illustrated, May 1, 2013
|New from||Used from|
Explore your book, then jump right back to where you left off with Page Flip.
View high quality images that let you zoom in to take a closer look.
Enjoy features only possible in digital – start reading right away, carry your library with you, adjust the font, create shareable notes and highlights, and more.
Discover additional details about the events, people, and places in your book, with Wikipedia integration.
Ask Alexa to read your book with Audible integration or text-to-speech.
Books with Buzz
Discover the latest buzz-worthy books, from mysteries and romance to humor and nonfiction. Explore more
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Frequently bought together
About the Author
- Publisher : NEBRASKA PAPERBACK; Illustrated edition (May 1, 2013)
- Language: : English
- Paperback : 472 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0803226616
- ISBN-13 : 978-0803226616
- Item Weight : 1.18 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.48 x 1 x 8.46 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #27,944 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
So my curiosity was piqued and after some deliberation - I thought that the book might be dense and nearly impenetrable for me. It was also very long - I downloaded it on my Kindle. I'm glad I did.
First I should say that the book is quite readable. One of the things you learn from the story is that Zweig was a prolific writer and this book is the work of one who has mastered the art of narrative. Although the subject matter was all new to me, I sailed through the book.
Have you seen the excellent movie "Midnight in Paris?" There a contemporary American writer is magically transported to Paris in the 1920's where he meets and carouses with the great literary, musical and artistic personalities of the day - Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Cole Porter, Pablo Picasso, and Salvador Dali. The movie is a real hoot, but this is what Zweig's life was actually like. This guy traveled the world and moved in the highest intellectual and artistic circles in Europe for decades on end. He worked together with Richard Strauss in the composition of an opera. Toscanini was a regular guest in Zweig's home in Salzburg. He had a long and intimate friendship with Sigmund Freud.
All of that is interesting in and of itself, but the thing that Zweig adds to the story is his take on what art and poetry meant in his day and time. Before WWI poets were rock stars (who among us today can even name five working poets) and people looked to them not just for aesthetic satisfaction or entertainment but for insight into life and the affairs of the world. Zweig was devoted to poetry and poets and his descriptions of many of the famous (and not so famous) poets he came to know are affecting.
In the book you also get an insider's view of the World Wars. I had hoped to get a better understanding of why WWI was started and what anybody expected to gain by it, but Zweig leaves it as the mystery that it is. Likewise he, a Jew himself, meditates on the hatred his people have suffered through the centuries and, like Freud and everyone else, can find no rational answer.
Zweig's life was, for a long time, a near perfect dream. He achieved critical acceptance and even acclaim very early in his life and he spent decades free to pursue his great passion - literature. But he was ruined. When Hitler rose to power in Germany Zweig was banished and his works burned and censored. Maybe that's why I had never heard of heard of him. It may by that his oeuvre yet suffers from Hitler's destructive hand.
“Before the war I knew the highest degree and form of individual freedom, and later its lowest level in hundreds of years; I have been celebrated and despised, free and unfree, rich and poor. All the livid steeds of the Apocalypse have stormed through my life –revolution and famine, inflation and terror, epidemics and emigration.’’
What does Zweig see as the worst poison?
“I have seen the great mass ideologies grow and spread before my eyes –Fascism in Italy, National Socialism in Germany, Bolshevism in Russia, and above all else that arch-plague nationalism which has poisoned the flower of our European culture.’’
This polemic against ‘that arch-plague nationalism’ runs throughout. He spends time and effort presenting the overwhelming impact of this new ‘arch-plague’.
“To give witness of this tense, dramatic life of ours, filled with the unexpected, seems to me a duty; for, I repeat, everyone was a witness of this gigantic transformation, everyone was forced to be a witness.’’
Zweig pleads with the reader to accept his ‘witness’ of the ‘gigantic transformation’. What was the change?
“In its liberal idealism, the nineteenth century was honestly convinced that it was on the straight and unfailing path toward being the best of all worlds. Earlier eras, with their wars, famines, and revolts, were deprecated as times when mankind was still immature and unenlightened. But now it was merely a matter of decades until the last vestige of evil and violence would finally be conquered, and this faith in an uninterrupted and irresistible “progress” truly had the force of a religion for that generation.’’
‘Faith in irresistible progress’ was a religion!
“One began to believe more in this “progress” than in the Bible, and its gospel appeared ultimate because of the daily new wonders of science and technology. In fact, at the end of this peaceful century, a general advance became more marked, more rapid, more varied. At night the dim street lights of former times were replaced by electric lights, the shops spread their tempting glow from the main streets out to the city limits. Thanks to the telephone one could talk at a distance from person to person. People moved about in horseless carriages with a new rapidity.’’
This new faith produced daily miracles! Who wouldn’t believe this more than the Bible? But . . . What happened?
“A certain shadow has never quite disappeared from Europe’s once so bright horizon. Bitterness and distrust of nation for nation and people for people remained like an insidious poison in its maimed body.’’
“In spite of the social and technical progress of this quarter of a century between world war and world war, there is not a single nation in our small world of the West that has not lost immeasurably much of its joie de vivre and its carefree existence. It would take days to describe how confiding, how childishly joyous the Italian people once were, even in the depth of poverty, how they laughed and sang in their trattorie, how wittily they derided the bad government and now they march sullenly with their chins thrust forward and wrath in their hearts. Can one still imagine an Austria so lax and loose in its joviality, so piously confiding in its Imperial master and in the God who made life so comfortable for them?’’
“The Russians, the Germans, the Spaniards, not one of them can remember how much freedom and joy the soulless, voracious bogy of the “State” has sucked from the very marrow of their soul. All peoples feel only that a strange shadow hangs broad and heavy over their lives. But we, who once knew a world of individual freedom, know and can give testimony that Europe once, without a care, enjoyed its kaleidoscopic play of color. And we shudder when we think how overcast, overshadowed, enslaved and enchained our world has become because of its suicidal fury.’’
Wow! No wonder Zweig is abandoned, in this world that lives and dies for (worships) nationalism!
I ~ The World of Security
II ~ School in the Last Century
III ~ Eros Matutinus
IV ~ Universitas Vitae
V ~ Paris, the City of Eternal Youth
VI ~ Bypaths on the Way to Myself
VII ~ Beyond Europe
VIII ~ Light and Shadow over Europe
IX ~ The First Hours of the War of 1914
X ~ The Struggle for Intellectual Brotherhood
XI ~ In the Heart of Europe
XII ~ Homecoming to Austria
XIII ~ Into the World Again
XIV ~ Sunset
XV ~ Incipit Hitler
XVI ~ The Agony of Peace
Returning to Austria after the war . . .
“Children as young as eleven or twelve went off in organized Wandervögel troops which were well instructed in matters of sex, and traveled about the country as far as Italy and the North Sea. Following the Russian pattern “pupils’ councils” were set up in the schools and these supervised the teachers and upset the curriculum, for it was the intention as well as their will to study only what pleased them.’’
‘Supervised the teachers’!
“They revolted against every legitimated form for the mere pleasure of revolting, even against the order of nature, against the eternal polarity of the sexes. The girls adopted “boyish bobs” so that they were indistinguishable from boys; the young men for their part shaved in an effort to seem girlish; homosexuality and lesbianism became the fashion, not from an inner instinct but by way of protest against the traditional and normal expressions of love.’’
“The general impulse to radical and revolutionary excess manifested itself in art, too, of course. The new painting declared all that Rembrandt, Holbein, and Velasquez had created as finished and done for, and set off on the most fantastic cubistic and surrealistic experiments. The comprehensible element in everything was proscribed, melody in music, resemblance in portraits, intelligibility in language.’’
In the 20’s? Here we are hundred years later and now it describes whole world, not just Austria!
Zweig writes in the manner of the nineteenth century German academic. Dense, detailed, filled with metaphors and literary allusions. Not philosophically obscure, nevertheless requires serious concentration and thought. On the other hand, reader can unearth treasures that shallow digging would miss.
(See also: “1917: Lenin, Wilson, and the Birth of the New World Disorder’’ by Arthur Herman. New book that complements Zweig’s insights.)
Top reviews from other countries
The book offers hugely interesting insights into the causal factors of the First World War (a great folly resulting from the ineptitude of the political leaders in key European states) and the development of fascism within both Austria and Germany. We are also introduced to many of the great literary figures of the age, amongst them was the author himself, and the context provided by the book helps us to understand the drivers for their work.
This is a very worthwhile read.
A paragraph in the early part of the book condensates how these innovations in art were only the forerunners of general change: “The truly great experience of our youthful years was the realisation that something new in art was on the way — something more impassioned, difficult and alluring than the art that had satisfied our parents and the world around us. But fascinated as we were by this one aspect of life, we did not notice that these aesthetic changes were only the forerunners of the much more far-reaching changes that were to shake and finally destroy the world of our fathers, the world of security.”
A keen traveller around Europe from a young age, Zweig enjoyed the advantage of witnessing the developments that led Europe onto its first world war, and then the second, from the perspectives of different nations and also through the eyes of some of the actors who had a part to play in the entire drama. Zweig seemed able to somehow miraculously position himself in the right places at the right time to witness history making itself, and through his eyes we become witnesses on the ground too. And in the end disturbing questions are suggested that invite the reader to continue investigating the period with a keener eye for analysis.
This book is, moreover, not just a historical account, but a lesson on spiritual survival among the general moral decay that gave rise to fascism and nazism. This is one of the books everyone should read in their lifetimes, to be better informed and to become better people.
I was searching the second hand book and i got it in Cassell Biographies. It is very remarkable autobiography and very sad indeed that the author finished his precious life before the Second World War ended. Long before Lord Edward Grey declared at the beginning of Great War ^ The lights of Europe are put out, we shall never see them again in our lifetime.^ He was correct so as Mr Stefan Zweig that culture of the Europe is completely destroyed.
He correctly writes ^There was no protection,no security against being constantly made aware of things and being drawn into them. There was no country to which one could flee , no quiet one could purchase; always and everywhere the hand of fate seized us and dragged us back in its insatiable play.^
The world is remembering the trauma of great war as Centenary has quietly passed. We hope the civilized people would never allow the vision of nuclear Apocalypse come true to destroy the world again and politics should dominate the literature and other fine arts. It is disheartening that no new edition of this fine book was published recently and people knew little about this book and its author.
At last i quote from the book ^Only that which wills to preserve itself has the right to be preserved for others. So choose and speak for me, ye memories, and at least give some reflection of my life before it sinks into the dark!^
I very strongly recommend this fine autobiography to be read by every one who is interested in the history, literature and great authors.