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by Stefan Zweig

  • ISBN: 1901285545
  • Category: Fiction
  • Author: Stefan Zweig
  • Subcategory: Short Stories & Anthologies
  • Other formats: doc txt azw mbr
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Pushkin Press; First UK edition edition (February 27, 2006)
  • Pages: 168 pages
  • FB2 size: 1208 kb
  • EPUB size: 1575 kb
  • Rating: 4.8
  • Votes: 927
Download Fantastic Night & Other Stories fb2

Five of Stefan Zweig's most compelling novellas are presented together in this powerful volume. Fantastic Night is the story of one transforming evening in the life of a rich and bored young man. He spends a day at the races and an evening in the seedy but thrilling company of the dregs of society. His experiences jolt him out of his languor and give him a newfound relish for life, which is then cut short by the Great War. Fantastic Night is joined by The Invisible Collection and Buchmendel, two of Zweig's most powerful works, which explore lives led in the single minded pursuit of art and literature against a backdrop of poverty and corruption. And finally, Letter from an Unknown Woman, Zweig's poignant and heartbreaking tale of the strength and madness of unrequited love, and The Fowler Snared complete the collection.
Reviews about Fantastic Night & Other Stories (3):
This book is my first encounter with Stefan Zweig, whom I had heard of for ages mostly because of the sad story of his suicide. That a man has killed himself is the sort of thing one always hates to hear, especially if the man is an author. But it is egregious to think that it is _all_ one knows about someone who was once the toast of the literary world. I have, then, remedied the situation and find that I like Zweig's fiction, at least most of the samples of it I have found here.

Admittedly, the title work, "Fantastic Night," did little to impress me. I simply couldn't identify with the hero and his sudden moment of elation. Perhaps it is the cause of that elation that I found unsatisfying. The protagonist (who is also the narrator) is, certainly, symptomatic of a certain modern personality that can find no recourse for his unhappiness in work or religion or art or love and who lives consequently in a perpetual state of ennui. His story, though, compared to the other stories, seemed shallow; and too long by half. Even if it is (as I suspect) a critique of the shallowness of the time, it did little to hold this reader. Luckily, as I often do with books of short stories, I read this one backwards; otherwise, beginning with "Fantastic Night" may have soured me on the whole volume.

The last stories in the book--"Buchmendel" and "The Invisible Collection" are the five-star productions in this collection and reason enough to buy it. Both are poignant reminders of the cost to culture of war and its aftermath, and of the seeming ephemera of civilized life without which that life could not go on. For anyone who holds books and art work dear, these tales will strike a chord. The devotion to both books and art held by the two protagonists respectively, and the fate that overtakes the two men, make for compelling reading. There is also an elegiac tone throughout. One feels very much that Zweig is here mourning a way of life that has passed,

The other two stories--"Letter from an Unknown Woman" and "The Fowler Snared"--are psychological studies of unrequited love. But that is only part of their hold on the reader. The first story is, at base, about the inability of people to really see each other, even when they are closely involved. The anonymity of modern life is a basic theme, a fact all the more discomfiting because the blind man here is a successful novelist. Rather than being responsive to others, as one supposes an artist should be, the man is an egotist who takes into account little but his own pleasure. "The Fowler Snared" is a story of how the unconscious mind slyly works around normal defenses to attain an end the conscious mind does not intend. It deals with an older man and a very young woman, and though certainly no _Lolita_, it lets us see clearly how easily such relationships can development.

Zweig was a Very Serious writer. Judging by these stories, he had little humor, nor did he have what sometimes makes up for that lack, a lively sense of adventure. His characters are upper middle-class men and women, city-dwellers for the most part (the city is Vienna), and subject to all the ills that writers in Zweig's time saw as signs of a declining culture. His pacing is leisurely (I deliberately avoid the pejorative "slow") as he takes his time building up atmosphere and details of character. But he did not once leave me unmoved at the end of a story or feeling sorry that I had read it (all excepting the title story, that is). If you are interested in elegant writing about people who live, for the most part, quiet and unassuming lives but who find themselves, often quite suddenly and inexplicably, in desperate straits, I think you will like this collection.

I have since bought Zweig's one novel, _Beware of Pity_, but have not had time yet to read it.
This incredible book made me forget my train card on the seat on board the train. I was so occupied by the story `Fantastic night' that I hardly heard the train doors open; I dashed outside in the last moment, still holding the book open. It was in a cold winter night, after I returned from work. It is a book that you cannot let go of. In `Fantastic night' There were many incidents in one hectic night that lead to the uplifting of the spirit, to a revival of the Baron's spiritual life; ironically he found inner life shortly before he found a physical death in a battlefield. `At least he experienced something', which the reader may be solaced with. I really loved what he wrote in the end, about a man finding himself. In a `Letter from an unknown woman' the reader learns something about the secrets of a passionate writer. I felt sorry for the unreciprocated love towards the romantic woman who admired the hero so much. The secret is only revealed at the end, thus, like in `fantastic Night' once you start the story it is hard to let go of it. `The fowler snared' was a very interesting tale of a lost love. The reader can't help feeling sorry for the misfortunes of the old man. Zweig's poetic end is exhilarating. He really has the gift of poetry and prose. `The invisible collection' is a story in which the point is only revealed at the end. Incredible story; it is amazing how Zweig managed to hide some facts until the very end. I felt sorry for the old honorable man in this story. His family, however, found a noble way to conceal the truth from him, and let him, thus, remain happy in his illusion. `Buchmendel' was a heart breaking story. Zweig is very critical towards Austrian society of his time, and the way they have treated human beings. Zweig points out the violations of human rights and the brutality and cruelty of the authorities. All in all, it is a book one can easily read again, because it is vivid and full of details, full of passion, Love, compassion, feelings, and emotions. And there is always a point in these stories. Zweig is a fascinating writer, full of details, and excitement. In `Fantastic night' the reader is swept away through a nocturnal journey and an intriguing danger mixed with curiosity. Stefan Zweig is an extraordinary talented dynamic writer. The way he tells the stories, it is like being inside a film; even better, like starring in a film. Moreover, he is not only a great moralist, but one of those vagrant exhilarating poets. In all of his stories I felt the motion, the excitement, the tremendous movement; Aye, the thrill of the human experience. I wish there were some more writers like him in our days, but there is none of his kind. He was a true artist, a true writer, belonging to another era. Zweig is undoubtedly a poetical novelist, and a novel poet. He lived in the reality of Carpe Diem. This book was exhilarating despite the overwhelming melancholy.

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