Stefan Zweig (1881-1942) was the most widely read German-language author of the twentieth century. Zweig was a secular Jew, a Pan-European and a pacifist. He was born in Vienna on November 28, 1881 and studied there and in Berlin. As a young man, he translated French poetry by Verlaine, Baudelaire, and Verhaeren into German. He quickly branched out into journalism, fiction, biography and writing for the theater. His plays, including the anti-war Jeremiah, were produced throughout Europe. His books were eventually translated into over 50 languages. Today, he is best known for his many works of non-fiction. They include the classic memoir The World of Yesterday and many biographical essays on famous writers and thinkers such as Erasmus, Tolstoy, Balzac, Stendhal, Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, Dickens, Freud and Mesmer. He lived in Salzburg with his first wife Friderike until 1933, when his books were burned by the Nazis. In 1934, he emigrated to England where he continued writing and met his second wife Lotte Altmann. In 1941, the couple moved to Brazil where they committed suicide in 1942.
The Struggle with the Daemon: Holderlin, Kleist, Nietzscheby Stefan Zweig
For Zweig, "everyone whose nature excels the commonplace, everyone whose impulses are creative, wrestles inevitably with his
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Stefan Zweig's literary portraits of three tormented giants of German literature, Friedrich Hölderlin, Heinrich von Kleist, and Friedrich Nietzsche, contrasts them with Goethe who was anchored in place by profession, home and family.
For Zweig, "everyone whose nature excels the commonplace, everyone whose impulses are creative, wrestles inevitably with his daemon" which Zweig describes as "the incorporation of that tormenting leaven which impels our being ... towards danger, immoderation, ecstasy, renunciation and even self-destruction."
In these essays, Zweig depicts the tragic and sublime lifelong struggle by three great creative minds with their respective daemons.
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