One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Saturday, August 27, 2011

No Facts, Only Interpretations

Assuming the author pours something of himself into his creation (think Flaubert & Emma, think Tolstoy & Anna, think...), do we find in Doktor Condor and Anton Hofmiller two battling forces within Zweig?

The good Herr Doktor is prepared to wear himself thin in service to Humanity. He lives to help others. He has married a blind woman.
'But one must try,' he said, with a glance at me. "That's what one lives for. For that alone.'
Hofmiller's initial response to Edith's crush on him is to run away. He did not court her affection; he does not want it. Only in talking to Condor--and only under the persuasive powers of the older man--does the young Hofmiller agree to stay and "play along." According to Condor, Hofmiller's running away would be the equivalent of a death sentence for the young girl:
'I take it that after what I have said to you you are fully aware of the consequences. We have just decided that the effect on the child of your running away would be murder -- or would lead to suicide . . . and you are, I assume, quite clear as to the fact that your . . . your flight involves not only your resignation but a sentence of death on the poor child.'
*

I've still not read the novel's denouement (I've just under 100 pages left), so I don't yet know how it will turn out. Neither have I read Zweig's last will and testament, Die Welt von Gestern (The World of Yesterday).

On the back cover of Beware of Pity is a blurb by Salman Rushdie: "Stefan Zweig was a dark and unorthodox artist; it's good to have him back." In light of the above assumption (granted, I'll need to gather more pieces to this jigsaw), I'm wondering if the dark side won out.

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