Stefan Zweig

Letter from an Unknown Woman and other stories

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A famous author receives a letter on his forty-first birthday. He doesn't know the sender, but still the letter concerns him intimately. Its story is earnest, even piteous: the story of a life lived in service to an unannounced, unnoticed love. In the other stories in this collection, a young man mistakes the girl he loves for her sister; two erstwhile lovers meet after an age spent apart; and a married woman repays a debt of gratitude. All four tales, newly translated by the award-winning Anthea Bell, are among Zweig's most celebrated and compelling work—expertly paced, laced with empathy and an unwaveringly acute sense of psychological detail.
This book is currently unavailable
139 printed pages
Original publication
2013
Publisher
Pushkin Press

Impressions

    Ioana Andreishared an impression2 years ago
    👍Worth reading

Quotes

    Ekaterina Oguryaevahas quoted4 years ago
    Nothing makes one as healthy as happiness, and there is no greater happiness than making someone else happy.
    Юля Борисhas quoted5 years ago
    WHEN R., the famous novelist, returned to Vienna early in the morning, after a refreshing three-day excursion into the mountains, and bought a newspaper at the railway station, he was reminded as soon as his eye fell on the date that this was his birthday. His forty-first birthday, as he quickly reflected, an observation that neither pleased nor displeased him. He swiftly leafed through the crisp pages of the paper, and hailed a taxi to take him home to his apartment. His manservant told him that while he was away there had been two visitors as well as several telephone calls, and brought him the accumulated post on a tray. R. looked casually through it, opening a couple of envelopes because the names of their senders interested him; for the moment he set aside one letter, apparently of some length and addressed to him in writing that he did not recognize. Meanwhile the servant had brought him tea; he leant back in an armchair at his ease, skimmed the newspaper again, leafed through several other items of printed matter, then lit himself a cigar, and only now picked up the letter that he had put to one side.
    It consisted of about two dozen sheets, more of a manuscript than a letter and written hastily in an agitated, feminine hand that he did not know. He instinctively checked the envelope again in case he had missed an explanatory enclosure. But the envelope was empty, and like the letter itself bore no address or signature identifying the sender. Strange, he thought, and picked up the letter once more. It began, “To you, who never knew me,” which was both a salutation and a challenge. He stopped for a moment in surprise: was this letter really addressed to him or to some imaginary person? Suddenly his curiosity was aroused. And he began to read:
    shehas quoted5 months ago
    At the time I was caught up in a frenzied love of artistic beauty that made me despise my real, everyday life. I hated myself in my ordinary clothes, looking simple and modest as a nun, and I often stayed at home for days on end because I was ashamed of my humdrum appearance, I hid myself in my cramped, ugly room, and my dearest dream was to live alone beside the sea, on a property both magnificent and artistic, in shady, green garden walks that were never touched by the dirty hands of the common workaday world, where rich peace reigned—much like this place, in fact.

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