PUSHKIN PRESS, £7.99 Order for £7.99 (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop : 0870 079 8897
Journey into the Past, By Stefan Zweig
Lovers' tale told with intensity
Monday 29 June 2009
Ludwig is a young engineer, ambitious, impoverished and proud. With great reluctance, he agrees to take up residence at the opulent Frankfurt villa of his elderly and ailing employer.
There, he and the councillor's young wife are drawn together, yet neither can acknowledge the depth of their feelings until Ludwig is sent to Mexico to set up a mining operation. As they face separation, their passion explodes – but will their love survive the test of time and distance?
Journey into the Past is vintage Stefan Zweig – lucid, tender, powerful and compelling. It was begun in the mid-1920s, along with several of his most unforgettable tales. Zweig continued to polish the story, and the corrected typescript remained with a London publisher at his death in 1942. Published in the complete German edition of his works in 1976, it has now been translated by Anthea Bell, one of our finest – and most prolific – translators from German.
Though Zweig completed two full-length novels and many short stories, the novella was the form in which he excelled. In the hands of a practitioner of Zweig's calibre, it can achieve an extraordinary intensity. This novella's characteristic framing device of a railway journey emphasises that we are dealing with a critical moment that will define the rest of that existence.
As in much of Zweig's fiction written after the First World War, Journey also shows the devastating effect of that conflict. In Mexico, Ludwig crosses off the days on the calendar like a prisoner awaiting release. But then his hopes founder on "the disastrous day that pitilessly tore up not only his calendar but, with total indifference, the lives and thoughts of millions".
Thanks to Pushkin Press and the New York Review Books, Zweig has been rescued from unjustified obscurity in the English-speaking world, and has found articulate champions, including the novelist Paul Bailey, who has provided an introduction to this book. Aficionados will be glad to know that there are more such gems still awaiting translation.
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Woman accidentally shoots herself in the head while posing for a selfie
- 2 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
- 3 Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
- 4 Female Muay Thai champion hustles coaches to give them a beating
- 5 16-year-old girl beaten and burned alive by lynch mob in Rio Bravo, Guatemala
Eurovision 2015: Graham Norton returns with another cutting commentary - his best lines
Eurovision 2015: The best moments from Australia's random entry to Lithuania's gay kiss
Clarkson, Hammond and May Live: Top Gear trio returns with a blend of fireworks, AC/DC and 'automotive pornography'
Eurovision 2015 winner: Sweden beats Russia and Italy to take the title from Conchita Wurst
Eurovision 2015: Estonia seemingly enters Louis Tomlinson from One Direction
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
Gay marriage 'Bert and Ernie' cake bakery found guilty of discrimination in Northern Ireland