Casanova, Stendhal, Tolstoy

Casanova, Stendhal, Tolstoy

by Stefan Zweig
     
 

Casanova, Stendhal, Tolstoy: Adepts in Self-Portraiture, the final volume of Stefan Zweig’s masterful Master Builders of the Spirit trilogy, discloses the smaller version of a writer’s own ego. Unconscious though it is, no reality is as important to the writer as the reality of their own life. Giacomo Casanova, Stendhal (Marie-Henri

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Overview

Casanova, Stendhal, Tolstoy: Adepts in Self-Portraiture, the final volume of Stefan Zweig’s masterful Master Builders of the Spirit trilogy, discloses the smaller version of a writer’s own ego. Unconscious though it is, no reality is as important to the writer as the reality of their own life. Giacomo Casanova, Stendhal (Marie-Henri Beyle), and Leo Tolstoy have different approaches to self-portraiture, but Zweig shows that together they symbolize three levels which represent successively ascending gradations of the same creative function.

Casanova is depicted as having a primitive gradation; he simply records deeds and happenings, without any attempt to appraise them or to study the deeper working of the self. Stendhal’s self-portraiture is depicted as psychological; he observes himself and investigates his own feelings. Tolstoy has the highest level; he describes his own life, records what led him to his own actions, and focuses on self-reflection in a completely unexaggerated manner.

At first glance it might seem as if self-portraiture is an artist’s easiest task. With no further trouble than a probing of memory and a description of the facts of life, "the truth" is revealed. The history of literature shows that ordinary autobiographers are no more than commonplace witnesses testifying to facts that chance has brought to their knowledge. A practiced artist is needed to discern the innermost happenings of the soul; few who have attempted autobiography have been successful in this difficult task. The present volume expounds the characteristics of these subjectively minded artists, and of autobiography as their typical method of personal expression.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781412845953
Publisher:
Transaction Publishers
Publication date:
03/01/2012
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
420
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Stefan Zweig (1881-1942) was an outstanding Austrian novelist, playwright, journalist, and biographer whose work became very popular in the US, South America, and Europe especially between the 1920s and 1930s. In 1904 he earned his doctorate degree in philosophy at the University of Vienna. Throughout his life he remained a pacifist, and instead of becoming a soldier at the start of World War I, he worked in the Archives of the Ministry of War. He became friends with notable people in history, including Romain Rolland, Sigmund Freud, and Arthur Schitzler. Among his most famous writings are Beware of Pity, Chess Story, and his memoir The World of Yesterday. Laurence Mintz is an independent scholar and visual artist. He was senior editor at Transaction Publishers for more than fifteen years. His main area of interest is in European cultural studies.

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