Stefan Zweig: Contradiction and Self-Deception

By Mundilfury |

Stefan Zweig (28 November 1881—22 February 1942) was an Austrian novelist, librettist, journalist, and biographer. He was born in Vienna to Moritz Zweig (1845-1926), a wealthy Jewish textile manufacturer, and Ida Brettauer (1854-1934) who was from a Jewish banking family.

He studied philosophy at the University of Vienna, and in 1904 completed his dissertation on the philosophy of Hippolyte Taine to earn his doctorate.

According to Zweig, religion did not play a central role in his education: “My mother and father were Jewish only through accident of birth.”

He did not renounce his Jewish faith, however, and wrote repeatedly on Jewish themes, as in his story Buchmendel.

Zweig struck up a friendship with Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism, whom he met when Herzl was the literary editor of one of Vienna’s newspapers the Neue Freie Presse; Herzl published some of his early essays.

During the First World War, he served in the Archives of the Ministry of War in Austria. Zweig married Friderike Maria von Winternitz in 1920; they divorced in 1938. In the late summer of 1939, he married Elisabet Charlotte “Lotte” Altmann at Bath, England.

In 1934, following Hitler’s rise to power in Germany, Zweig left Austria for England, living in London and from 1939 onward in Bath. Because of Hitler’s rapid advance westward, he and his second wife left for the United States and settled in New York City. They lived for two months at Yale…

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