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, March 24, 2012

The Final Pages: "The World of Yesterday"

Unless it's in the final 10 pages (will finish it later today or tomorrow) Zweig doesn't say peep about his wife (and leaving his wife for his co-suicide) or his final act.

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What he does reveal is how much "being Austrian" and "being European" really meant to him. Perhaps--because he was such an international writer/person--he didn't initially think it would. But it did.

Ten years before Austria falls to the Nazis Zweig meets a Russian author, Dmitri Merejkovsky, in Paris. The Russian exile's words then haunted Zweig (now a man without a country) later:
Formerly man had only a body and a soul. Now he needs a passport as well for without it he will not be treated like a human being.
 According to Zweig before the First World War it was much easier to travel:

Indeed, nothing makes us more sensible of the immense relapse into which the world fell after the First World War than the restrictions on man's freedom of movement and the diminution of his civil rights. Before 1914 the earth had belonged to all. People went where they wished and stayed as long as they pleased. There were no permits, no visas, and it always gives me pleasure to astonish the young by telling them that before 1914 I traveled from Europe to India and to America without passport and without ever having seen one. One embarked and alighted without questioning or being questioned, one did not have to fill out a single one of the many papers which are required today.



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