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Stefan Zweig

Beware of Pity

«Stefan Zweig's brilliant novel, Beware of Pity, is an original and powerful work.»—The New York Times
The great Austrian writer Stefan Zweig was a master anatomist of the deceitful heart, and Beware of Pity, the only novel he published during his lifetime, uncovers the seed of selfishness within even the finest of feelings. Beware of Pity is an almost unbearably tense and powerful tale of unrequited love and the danger of pity.
In 1913, Hofmiller, an Austro-Hungarian cavalry officer stationed at the edge of the empire, is invited to a party at the home of a rich local landowner, a world away from the dreary routine of the barracks. The surroundings are glamorous, wine flows freely, and the exhilarated young Hofmiller asks his host’s lovely daughter for a dance, only to discover that sickness has left her painfully crippled. It is a minor blunder that will destroy his life, as pity and guilt gradually implicate him in a well-meaning but tragically wrongheaded plot to restore the unhappy invalid to health.
Stefan Zweig's only novel is a devastating depiction of the torment of the betrayal of both honour and love, realised against the background of the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
'The novel I'll really remember reading this year is Stefan Zweig's frighteningly gripping Beware of Pity, first published in 1939 … an intoxicating, morally shaking read about human responsibilities and a real reminder of what fiction can do best' –Times Literary Supplement
About the author
Stefan Zweig (1881–1942) was an Austrian novelist, poet, playwright and biographer. Born into an Austrian-­Jewish family in 1881, he became a leading figure in Vienna’s cultural world and was famed for his gripping novellas and  biographies. At the height of his literary career, in the 1920s and 1930s, he was one of the most popular writers in the world: extremely popular in the United States, South America and Europe — he remains so in continental Europe — however, he was largely ignored by the British public.
Zweig is best known for his novellas (notably The Burning Secret, The Royal Game, Amok, and Letter from an Unknown Woman; novels (Beware of Pity, Confusion, and the post­humously published The Post Office Girl); and his vivid psychological biographical essays on famous writers and thinkers such as Erasmus, Tolstoy, Balzac, Stendhal, Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, Dickens, Freud and Mesmer.
In 1934, with the rise of Nazism, Zweig fled from Salzburg to London, then to New York, and finally to Brazil. Zweig’s memoir, The World of Yesterday, was completed in 1942, one day before Zweig and his second wife were found dead, following an apparent double suicide.
512 printed pages
Original publication
2020

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