“All his fatherland meant to him now was prison and compulsion. His home in the world was outside his country, Europe was humanity.” Stefan Zweig
Works I Have So Far Read for German Literature Month, November, 2017
- “You’d Have Larvae Too” by Nora Wagener, 2016
- Vertigo by W. G. Sebald, 1990
- The Last Weynfeldt by Martin Suter, 2006
- “An Earthquake in Chile” by Heinrich Von Kleist, 1809
- Who is Martha? by Marjana Gaponenko, 2012
- “The Legal Haziness of Marriage” by Olga Grjasnowa, 2015
- “Aladdin, COB” by Isabelle Lehn, 2015
- “The Last Bell” by Johannes Urzidil, 1968
- The Rings of Saturn by W. G. Sebald, 1995
- Late Fame by Arthur Schnitzler, written 1892, published 2016
- Blood Brothers by Ernst Haffner, 1933
- Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin, 1929
- Confessions of a Murderer by Joseph Roth, 1936
- “Compulsion” by Stefan Zweig, 1929
German Literature Month in November 2013 lead me to the discovery of twelve great writers entirely new to me, among them some of my now most treasured authors, Stefan Zweig, Joseph Roth, Hans Klein, W. G. Sebald, Robert Walser and Arthur Schnitzler.
Stefan Zweig was at one time the most popular European writer. Today’s story, “Compulsion”, is set in Zurich Switzerland, just as the narrator’s home country, Germany has entered World War One. He, with his beloved wife, has moved to Switzerland to live on the shores of Lake Zurich, where he can pursue his painting in peace. He, and especially his wife, see the power of a few rich men in Germany and other countries to compel millions of men with no stake in the conflict or hate for each other to fight in absurd wars as a great evil.
He thought he had medical clearance to avoid being drafted until he got a letter ordering him to appear at the German consular office for reexamination. This sets of an intensely emotional conflict between the man, who feels he must obey, and his wife who says she will leave him if he does.
The events that follow are very exciting, the ending is gratifying. It feels like when the man and his wife are condemning German war policy that it is Zweig himself speaking.
Please share your experience with Zweig with us