I have been looking for this short story in English, but I haven’t found it; I suppose it is included in some of the compilations of Zweig’s stories but not as a single book as in Spain, so I’m showing you the Spanish cover. Anyway, I thought I would never say this about Zweig, but I don’t recommend this story.
I love Stefan Zweig’s novels and short stories, and when I am hesitating because I don’t know which book to read, I usually try to read a book I know I will love while I decide between the others, so I have three or four authors reserved that I will like “for sure”. And that’s why I started this short story: I knew I would enjoy it very much – because it’s Zweig’s story – but it finally disappointed me a lot.
Erika Ewald is a pianist that meets a violinist she has to play in a concert with. Both are talented composers and Erika falls in love with him, but this love is only in her mind, imaginary and perfect, and she doesn’t want it to materialize because when the boy confesses he also feels attracted to her, she refuses him.
Just as I didn’t understand Erika’s behavior, neither did I understand her sensitivity about music. Of course she is a musician and she loves music and art, but I found the girl overly sensitive to the point that she burst into tears, screaming and suffering, when she heard a song that thrilled her. It was difficult not to see her as an exaggeration, instead of thinking of her as a real character.
So for the first time Zweig has failed me. My life is over.
My Spanish review here.
Crying when you hear music that moves you is understandable, but screaming sounds more the sort of thing you’d expect from fans at a rock concert, and it sounds like this is about classical music. The character personality sounds odd, realistic to some extent, but yes, one of those that might divide opinion. Remember the stories of Zweig’s that you love, even favourite authors don’t always meet the mark 🙂
Yes, it is a shame. As I said in my Spanish blog, I’ve discovered that Zweig is mortal too 😉 Anyway, he has other great short stories that I recommend.
RebeccaScaglione - Love at First Book said:
I haven’t read anything by him, and obviously, I’m lucky that I can’t get a hold of this book in English since you disliked it!
Oh no, your life is over! That’s not good, lol. Hopefully you’ll like your next Zweig much better 🙂
Rebecca: yes, don’r read this one, but read Stefan Zweig, his writing is wonderful!
Jennifer: hehehe yes, I’m sure any of his other books will be better than this 😉
I have masses of books by Zweig on my ‘to be read’ list but I don’t think that I have yet read anything by him. It’s because his name comes at the end of the alphabet and so when I reach that section of the library I always have my hands full!
But thanks for the warning about this one (although if it isn’t available in English I won’t be reading it anyway!). Unlike you, I can understand how you might have a romantic idea of love that becomes somehow sullied by the reality – someone can be in love with the idea of love rather than actually with the other person, and the purity of the ideal somehow risks being sullied by the chance of it coming into the real world. I’m not sure that makes sense: I’m not feeling particularly articulate today 🙂
Nevertheless, all that screaming and shouting about music sounds rather excessive…
Leander: hehehe I absolutely understand you about the situation in the library 😀
But seriously, you have to read Stefan Zweig; he has wonderful short stories. Even though this one is not available in a single book, I think in English is available as a part of a compilation book of his stories.
And yes, I understand what you mean, but perhaps the whole character is too excessive, and well, you don’t find it plausible at the end.
Intriguing. “Erika falls in love with him, but this love is only in her mind, imaginary and perfect” and “It was difficult not to see her as an exaggeration, instead of thinking of her as a real character.” It is difficult not to make a comparison with myself. I have been suffering (yes that was silly), crying (same) and I can’t recall screaming but I probably did (more than silly too). I am real character. I should read the book to see what is so unreal, what it is that Zweig could not convey. See my blog in which I kept a poetic record of it all, the ups and downs. Rationally it is absolutely daft, the blog and the writing, since I am supposed to be an adult, in a high function, but it is what I experienced and some of it I recognize in your summary. Maybe Zweig’s charchter was not so unreal after all? Or reality is even stranger? Curious.
Maybe reality is a subjective assumption of what one knows, and maybe I should be more open to new things and ways of facing life, like yours, and don’t call them “exagerations”. Thank you for opening my eyes.
How funny, this short story is one of my favourite literature pieces since there is no female character in literature I can relate to more than Erika. I could completely relate with “the unliving objects were speaking to her” part and strong feelings in general. As for love, I have been in the same situation and didn’t understand why it turned that way – and this book was a great explanation! Anyway, many Zweig’s characters may seem exaggerated and non realistic to most of the people, but I think there is always someone who can relate and the others should simply enjoy Zweig’s beautiful and sofisticated language.
Yes, Zweig always gets the right depth in his female characters, so they become real. I also enjoy his short novellas very much, both for the characters and the way he narrates the story.
Thank you very much for commenting.