Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Saturday, November 22, 2014

"Incident on Lake Geneva" by Stefan Zweig

A World War One Story About a Lost Russian Soldier

My favorite works by Zweig are first "Mendel the Bibliophile"then Chess, and The Post Office Girl

There are still several days left in German Literature Month IV.  Lots of time left to participate. There are already over a hundred posts, reading through them is much like a fine class in German literature at a top academy.

The schedule and guidelines for participation are on the event webpage.  Just reading the  posts of all the other participants is tremendously informative. There is an interesting contest or two and some prizes to be won.  One of the tasks participants are charged with is reading a work first published in 2014 and this collection qualifies.  

I am very happy to be once again participating in German Literature Month, hosted by Caroline of Beauty is a Sleeping Cat and Lizzy of Lizzy's Literary Life.   Events like this are one of the great things about being part of the international book blog community.  I know there is a lot of work that goes into a month long event and I offer my thanks to Lizzy and Caroline

Works I have so far read for German Literature Month 2014

1.   Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

2.   Gertrude by Hermann Hesse 

3.  "Diary of a School Boy" by Robert Walser (no post)

4.  Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse

5.  Burning Secret by Stefan Zweig 1925

6.  Life Goes On by Hans Keilson

7.  Comedy in a Minor Key by Hans Keilson

8.  "The Wall" by Jurek Becker

9.  "Romeo" by Jurek Becker

10.   "The Invisible City" by Jurek Becker.

11.  Wittgenstein's Nephew by Thomas Bernhard

12. "Dostoevsky's Idiot" by Robert Walser

13.  "French Newspapers" by Robert Wasler 

14.  Jakob the Lier by Jurek Becker

15.  The Trial by Franz Kafka 1915,

16.  "The Seamstress" by Rainer Maria Rilke  1894

17.  "The Experiement or the Victory of Children" by Unica Zürn 1950

18.  "The Star Above the Forest" by Stefan Zweig. 1924

19.  "Saint Cecilia or the Power of Music" by Heinrich von Kleist 1810

20.  Amok by Stefan Zweig 1923

21.  Concrete 1982

22.  "Kleist in Thun" by Robert Walser 1913

23.  "Incident at Lake Geneva" by Stefan Zweig (1924)

I enjoy reading Stefan Zweig.   One of his gifts was  a great talent for story telling.  "Incident at Lake Geneva" is the first set in time of World War One story I have read by  Zweig.   It really is a good very moving compassionate story about a lost Russian solider who is found naked on a raft in Lake Geneva in Switzerland by fisherman.  He cannot understand him, he keeps saying over and over a word I guessed was "Russia".  At first all the villagers take him for a mad man, talking gibberish.  Then they bring in a man who knows a bit of several languages, including Russian.  Once commutation is established we learn he had been drafted into the Russian army to fight in France. He was transported all the way from his home in Siberia. On the first day in France he is shot in the leg.  While in a field hospital he asks where Russia was and they point toward Lake Geneva. He knows nothing of the world outside of his village and thought Russia was on the other side of the lake.m He wants only to get back to his wife and children.  He is put up temporarily in a hotel after much debate about what to do with him.   He asks when can he go home and is told  "after the war and only God knows when that will be".  Boris's last hope is to appeal to the Czar.

Boris has no idea what "disposed" means but now his last hope is crushed.  The next day he is founded dead in the lake, drowning in an effort to get back to Russia.

This is a very moving story.

Mel von ü


Marina Sofia said...

That's a short story by Zweig that I didn't know- and I currently live on the shores of Lake Geneva, so very appropriate read! Thanks for bringing it to my attention - that's why I love events such as German Lit Month!

Shelley said...

Any Rilke on the list?

He's the Mozart of poets.

Mel u said...

Marina Sofia - this story will be very, I thing, meaningful for you.

Shelley, I posted on a very dark short story by Rilke, "The Seamstress"