Beware of Pity

Beware of Pity

Book - 2006
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Wes Anderson on Stefan Zweig: "I had never heard of Zweig...when I just more or less by chance bought a copy of Beware of Pity . I loved this first book. I also read the The Post-Office Girl . The Grand Budapest Hotel has elements that were sort of stolen from both these books. Two characters in our story are vaguely meant to represent Zweig himself -- our "Author" character, played by Tom Wilkinson, and the theoretically fictionalised version of himself, played by Jude Law. But, in fact, M. Gustave, the main character who is played by Ralph Fiennes, is modelled significantly on Zweig as well."

"Stefan Zweig was a dark and unorthodox artist; it's good to have him back."--Salman Rushdie

The great Austrian writer Stefan Zweig was a master anatomist of the deceitful heart, and Beware of Pity, the only novel he published during his lifetime, uncovers the seed of selfishness within even the finest of feelings.

Hofmiller, an Austro-Hungarian cavalry officer stationed at the edge of the empire, is invited to a party at the home of a rich local landowner, a world away from the dreary routine of the barracks. The surroundings are glamorous, wine flows freely, and the exhilarated young Hofmiller asks his host's lovely daughter for a dance, only to discover that sickness has left her painfully crippled. It is a minor blunder that will destroy his life, as pity and guilt gradually implicate him in a well-meaning but tragically wrongheaded plot to restore the unhappy invalid to health.

Publisher: New York : New York Review Books, c2006
ISBN: 9781590172001
Branch Call Number: F ZWE
Additional Contributors: Blewitt, Phyllis
Blewitt, Trevor 1900-


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Mar 27, 2015

"It always demands a far greater degree of courage for an individual to oppose an organized movement than to let himself be carried along with the stream-individual courage, that is, a variety of courage that is dying out in these times of progressive organization and mechanization."
I've read a number of the Austrian writer Stefan Zweig's books recently because Wes Anderson, one of my favorite directors, cited him as an influence on "The Grand Budapest Hotel." This 1939 novel is one of his longest and one of his most psychologically astute. Also check out "Confusion" and "The Post-Office Girl." Zweig fled the Continent when the Nazis took power and settled with his wife in Brazil, where they killed themselves in 1942.

Nov 11, 2012

A blogger who I follow mentioned Stefan Zweig and this particular novel, which led me to read it. What a find! This is one of the best novels I've every read. It tells the story of a young, raw lieutenant in the Austrian army before World War I, whose pity for a young, lame woman leads him deeper and deeper into a crisis of conscience. The book has a page-turning pace, keen psychological observations shown through action rather than words (Zweig was a friend of Freud's and gave the eulogy at Freud's funeral), and gut-wrenching raw emotions. Stefan Zweig was one of Europe's most popular and highly regarded writers during the 1920s and 30s. A Jew, he warned about the horrors to come. but his intellectual friends did not listen. He and his wife emigrated to England and then Brazil, where in the late 1930s their despair for the future led them to jointly commit suicide. Zweig is still well regarded in Europe, but has fallen into limbo in the United States. From reading this novel, it is obvious he was one of the finest writers in Europe during the 20th century. I intend to read much more of his prolific work. Unfortunately the library has many titles in German. There are many English translations of these and other books, and I hope the library will get some of them soon.


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