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

Thursday, November 10, 2016

"Did He Do It" by Stefan Zweig (first published 1987, in The Collected Stories of Stefan Zweig, translated by Anthea Bell)

This will be the fifth year The Reading Life has participated in German Literature Month.  This event is one  of the reason it is great to be part of the international book blog community.  Last year I was motivated to read world class literary works by writers like Thomas Mann, Hermann Broch, Stefan Zweig, Hermann Hesse as well as lesser know treasures.  I learned a lot from the many very erudite posts by coparticipants and from those by our very generous hosts Caroline of Beauty is a Sleeping Cat and Lizzy of Lizzy's Literary Life.  You will find excellent reading suggestions and planned events on their blog.  To participate all you have to do is to post on any work originally written in German and put your link on the event blog.  

My Readings For German Literature VI November 2016

1.  The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse

2.  Royal Highness by Thomas Mann

3. A Small Circus by Hans Fallada

4.  Rosshalde by Hermann Hesse

5.  "Did He Do It" by. Stefan Zweig

6.  Journey Into the Past by Stefan Zweig (s cond reading, no post, posted on in Nov 2015)

The Collected Stories of Stefan Zweig, translated by the award winning Althea Bell, with twenty one stories and a novella is a magnificent,  beautiful book.  I have been reading and posting on the stories through now three German Litetature Month events.  I do have one complaint.  No where are we provided with first publication information.  I learned from an Amazon reviewer who kindly listed all first publication dates that "Did He Do It" as not published until 1987, forty five years after Zweig died but I have no idea why. Where was this story all those years,  did Zweig feel it was not worthy?  Did a journal editor reject it?  If you know the back story on this work, please leave a comment. (Added note,thanks to Jonsthan I have first publication data, some editions of the collection have this)

"Did He Do It" centers on a dog.  I acknowledge it as a bit smaltzy, maybe that is why a journal editor somewhere long ago declined to publish the work.  The story is set in rural England.  It is depicted as a beautiful calm care free place.  Biographical readers of Zweig might see his longing for a civilized place to live.  A married couple is getting to know their new neighbors.  The man has a good job in London.  They first get to know the wife who seems to have a sadness about her.  Then they meet her husband.  He is a person of great enthusiasm for everything.  His wife is great, his job wonderful.  He seems to wear his wife out with his exuberance. There only lacuna is their childlessness.  The couple next door d
Decide they need a dog, a band their friend's dog just gave birth to a litter of Bulldogs. .  The man falls in love with the dog who becomes the ultimate spoiled brat, dominating the household.  The build up of the household power of the dog is very well done.  Then the dog's life takes a huge down turn when the husband forgets all about his when his wife becomes pregnant.  When the baby is born he is completely shocked when he is actually relegated to a yard dog.  I pretty much saw the ending coming as will you.  It was still exciting and scary.

"Did He Do It" was fun to read.  

Please share your favorite Zweig works with us. 

Mel ü


Suko said...

Mel, Did He Do It sounds very good, especially to those of us who live with dogs.

Jonathan said...

This was probably the story I liked least in the collection. I mean the husband is a great, and annoying, character but the story just didn't do it for me. I wonder if Zweig wrote it with an English audience in mind.

My kindle copy has publication dates & original titles at the back of the book. For this story it has: 'Did He Do It? (War er es?, 1987—written between 1934-40)'. That's all I know about the story though; I think the collection could do with an introduction.