Modesty of Zweig

In this month’s LRB Michael Hofman attempts to bring the Zweig revival to a decisive halt:

There is something touchingly wrong about Zweig. He had a trammelled life and preached freedom; he gave himself to public causes and had little to say; he was obtuse and hypersensitive and worshipped at the altar of friendship. He is like someone walking up a down escalator, his eyes anxiously fixed on Parnassus – all those people and friends whose manuscripts he collected – toiling away and not coming close. He, by the way, knew it: he deprecates himself and means it; he lists writers who are more important than he is, and means it; Friderike, his first wife, wrote to him, ‘your written works are only a third of yourself’ with little fear of contradiction from him; he is the modest man in the story with plenty to be modest about – so it’s his apologists who need telling.

2 thoughts on “Modesty of Zweig

  1. >There are some good responses to Hofmann's ad hominem attack in this month's letters page of the LRB.I agree with the sentiment expressed in one of the letters that if Zweig was really that inconsiderable a figure why devote such a tirade against him. It smacked of breaking a butterfly upon a wheel. For what it's worth I enjoyed The World of Yesterday, despite the occasional Pooterish moments. Unlike Hofmann I thought the portraits of his contempories such as Rilke very well done.

  2. >Uncle Toby – I haven't seen those responses but look forward to reading them. The savagery of the attack suggested something deeper was at it's root.I bought The World of Yesterday from curiosity but have only dipped into it briefly. If nothing else there is historical significance.

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