“Forgotten Dreams” - A Short Story by Stefan Zweig - first published in The Vergessene Träume, 1900- translated by Anthea Bell - 2013 - included in The Collected Short Stories of Stefan Zweig from Pushkin Press
This will be my 8th year as a participant in German Literature Month. It seems important in these dark times to continue traditions fostering culture, historical knowledge and literary depth.
I first became aware of Stefan Zweig during GL Month in 2013. He is now one of my favorite writers.
My favorite works by Zweig are first "Mendel the Bibliophile", then Chess, and The Post Office Girl, and “Twilight”.
November 28, 1881 - Vienna, Austria
February 22, 1942 - Petropolis, Brazil
“Forgotten Dreams”, a brief work, begins with a description of the exquiste view from a magnificient Villa:
“THE VILLA LAY CLOSE TO THE SEA. The quiet avenues, lined with pine trees, breathed out the rich strength of salty sea air, and a slight breeze constantly played around the orange trees, now and then removing a colourful bloom from flowering shrubs as if with careful fingers. The sunlit distance, where attractive houses built on hillsides gleamed like white pearls, a lighthouse miles away rose steeply and straight as a candle—the whole scene shone, its contours sharp and clearly outlined, and was set in the deep azure of the sky like a bright mosaic.”
If Zweig’s body of work had to be summed up in a sentence it might be described as an elegy to the lost glories of a culture in decline.
The plot is about a man revisiting a woman he once loved long ago. When a servant gives her his card she is quite surprised.
“She reads the name with that expression of surprise on her features that appears when you are greeted in the street with great familiarity by someone you do not know. For a moment, small lines appear above her sharply traced black eyebrows, showing how hard she is thinking, and then a happy light plays over her whole face all of a sudden, her eyes sparkle with high spirits as she thinks of the long-ago days of her youth, almost forgotten now.”
Of course she is described as besutiful.
In their ensuing conversation we learn the woman once had dreams, hopes and values. Over years, she settled for wealth and comfort.
Maybe Anthea Bell choice this as the lead story in the collection as it is a very Zweigian work, embodying his values.
I have still not read all the Short Stories in The Collected Short Stories of Stefan Zweig from Pushkin Press. I hope to post on a few more this month.