Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

The best of the new books

Selected Stories, By Stefan Zweig PUSHKIN PRESS £9.99 ' Fans of old movies may be familiar with Letter from an Unknown Woman, starring Joan Fontaine, which was adapted from Stefan Zweig's 1922 novella telling the story of a playboy and his amours from the point of view of one of the discarded women. Abortive relationships between men and women dominate this splendid collection, where a touch or a fleeting memory illuminates the cruelty or the ignorance of an individual. In 'Fantastic Night', an Austrian lieutenant remembers the night that changed him from a self-indulgent young man into a caring individual - and during which he stole money, consorted with a prostitute and was almost robbed. As in many of these stories, the more sordid aspects - not necessarily of life, but of character - are revealed. In 'The Fowler Snared', a man's manipulations of a young girl expose his moral vacuity; in 'Buchmendel', a whole society's mistreatment of a Jewish book-pedlar shocks one of his former customers, who had forgotten the old man and, in doing so, behaved just as badly. Human frailties and human cruelties are Zweig's eternal themes...'

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Source: Independent

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