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Fantastic Night and Other Stories [Paperback]

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Item description for Fantastic Night and Other Stories by Anthea Bell Stefan Zweig...

Five of Stefan Zweig's most compelling novellas are presented together in this powerful volume. Fantastic Night, translated into English for the first time, is the story of one transforming evening in the life of a rich and bored young man. His experiences jolt him out of his languor and give him a newfound relish for life, which is then ironically cut short by the Great War. The Invisible Collection and Buchmendel, two of Zweig's most potent works, explore lives led in the single-minded pursuit of art and literature against a backdrop of poverty and corruption. And finally, Letter from an Unknown Woman, Zweig's poignant and heartbreaking tale unrequited love, counter-balanced by The Fowler Snared, in which it is the man whose passion remains unrequited, complete the collection.

"Thanks to the enterprising Pushkin Press, it is now possible to read the novellas on which Zweig's reputation must finally depend. His genius as a storyteller encompasses the brainy as well as those of average intelligence, the very rich and the desperately poor. He deserves to be famous again, and for good."-Paul Bailey, The Times Literary Supplement

"Fortunately, the Pushkin Press has been publishing some of Zweig's works in fluent translations and handsome editions: it is thus performing a valuable service for British literary culture . . . a writer of great sensitivity."-Anthony Daniels, The Sunday Telegraph

Stefan Zweig, novelist, biographer, poet and translator, was born in 1881 in Vienna into a wealthy Austrian-Jewish family. With the rise of Nazism, he moved from Salzburg to London (taking British citizenship), New York and finally Brazil where he died in 1942. Anthea Bell has produced the first English translation of Fantastic Night. Eden and Cedar Paul translated The Invisible Collection, Buchmendel, Letter from an Unknown Woman and The Fowler Snared.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   320
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.7" Width: 5" Height: 0.5"
Weight:   0.5 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 2004
Publisher   Pushkin Paper
ISBN  1901285545  
ISBN13  9781901285543  

Availability  0 units.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Literary
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Short Stories > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Fantastic Night and Other Stories?

Vienna Blood  Jul 28, 2006
This book is my first encounter with Stefan Zweig, whom I had heard of for ages mostly because of the sad story of his suicide. That a man has killed himself is the sort of thing one always hates to hear, especially if the man is an author. But it is egregious to think that it is _all_ one knows about someone who was once the toast of the literary world. I have, then, remedied the situation and find that I like Zweig's fiction, at least most of the samples of it I have found here.

Admittedly, the title work, "Fantastic Night," did little to impress me. I simply couldn't identify with the hero and his sudden moment of elation. Perhaps it is the cause of that elation that I found unsatisfying. The protagonist (who is also the narrator) is, certainly, symptomatic of a certain modern personality that can find no recourse for his unhappiness in work or religion or art or love and who lives consequently in a perpetual state of ennui. His story, though, compared to the other stories, seemed shallow; and too long by half. Even if it is (as I suspect) a critique of the shallowness of the time, it did little to hold this reader. Luckily, as I often do with books of short stories, I read this one backwards; otherwise, beginning with "Fantastic Night" may have soured me on the whole volume.

The last stories in the book--"Buchmendel" and "The Invisible Collection" are the five-star productions in this collection and reason enough to buy it. Both are poignant reminders of the cost to culture of war and its aftermath, and of the seeming ephemera of civilized life without which that life could not go on. For anyone who holds books and art work dear, these tales will strike a chord. The devotion to both books and art held by the two protagonists respectively, and the fate that overtakes the two men, make for compelling reading. There is also an elegiac tone throughout. One feels very much that Zweig is here mourning a way of life that has passed,

The other two stories--"Letter from an Unknown Woman" and "The Fowler Snared"--are psychological studies of unrequited love. But that is only part of their hold on the reader. The first story is, at base, about the inability of people to really see each other, even when they are closely involved. The anonymity of modern life is a basic theme, a fact all the more discomfiting because the blind man here is a successful novelist. Rather than being responsive to others, as one supposes an artist should be, the man is an egotist who takes into account little but his own pleasure. "The Fowler Snared" is a story of how the unconscious mind slyly works around normal defenses to attain an end the conscious mind does not intend. It deals with an older man and a very young woman, and though certainly no _Lolita_, it lets us see clearly how easily such relationships can development.

Zweig was a Very Serious writer. Judging by these stories, he had little humor, nor did he have what sometimes makes up for that lack, a lively sense of adventure. His characters are upper middle-class men and women, city-dwellers for the most part (the city is Vienna), and subject to all the ills that writers in Zweig's time saw as signs of a declining culture. His pacing is leisurely (I deliberately avoid the pejorative "slow") as he takes his time building up atmosphere and details of character. But he did not once leave me unmoved at the end of a story or feeling sorry that I had read it (all excepting the title story, that is). If you are interested in elegant writing about people who live, for the most part, quiet and unassuming lives but who find themselves, often quite suddenly and inexplicably, in desperate straits, I think you will like this collection.

I have since bought Zweig's one novel, _Beware of Pity_, but have not had time yet to read it.

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