Zweig in Exile
“Lost Books” is a weekly series highlighting forgotten books through the prism of Tablet Magazine’s and Nextbook.org’s archives. So blow the dust off the cover, and begin!
Austrian writer Stefan Zweig committed suicide 70 years ago yesterday. In 2005, Jennifer Weisberg highlighted 1939’s Beware of Pity, Zweig’s only novel and one of his lesser-known works, which Weisberg called a “micro-portrait of life in the late Hapsburg Empire.” Renowned in the 1920s and ’30s for his biographies, Zweig fled Austria in 1934 for London, where he lived as a refugee until settling in Brazil in 1941.
Set in Hungary just before the start of World War I, Beware of Pity tells the story of Anton Hofmiller, a soldier stationed in a remote town who gets invited to the impressive home of a local nobleman, sparking a complicated relationship with his host’s crippled daughter. Weisberg explains,
Yet it’s the story of the girl’s father that provides the moral spine of the tale. A conversation with Edith’s physician reveals that the man Hofmiller so admires was in fact born “a keen-eyed, narrow-chested little Jewish lad” named Lämmel Kanitz. Canny, thrifty, and somewhat of an autodidact, Kanitz learned to make money, pulling off his biggest coup in an unscrupulous real estate deal. Though he’d taken advantage of a naïve woman, he later felt a good deal of guilt at the way he had swindled her out of her fortune. In the end, “he was, rather, in spite of himself, taken unawares by an emotion that was genuine, and, strangely enough, remained genuine. Out of this absurd courtship was born an unusually happy marriage”—and a new life; baptized, Kanitz purchased the privilege of changing his name to Herr Lajos von Kekesfalva.
Read No Exit, by Jennifer Weisberg
Plus trying to solve the problem that is Syria, and more in the news
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180
WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.
We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.