Stefan Zweig

(1881-1942 / Austria)

Quotations

  • ''It is a law of life that human beings, even the geniuses among them, do not pride themselves on their actual achievements but that they want to impress others, want to be admired and respected because of things of much lower import and value.''
    Stefan Zweig (18811942), Austrian writer. Balzac, p. 370, trans. by Marion Sonnenfeld, S. Fischer Verlag (1959).
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  • ''Human life is so strangely constituted that even perfected intellectual understanding combined with the richest experience is incapable of conquering innate weaknesses. Even if it thoroughly analyzes itself, psychology (and this is one of the dubious aspects of psychoanalysis) can, to be sure, recognize its flawed native characteristics, but it cannot eliminate them. Understanding (them) is not the same as overcoming (them) and, again and again, we see the wisest of human beings helpless in the fact of their small follies which everyone else observes with a smile.''
    Stefan Zweig (18811942), Austrian writer. Balzac, pp. 187188, trans. by Marion Sonnenfeld, S. Fischer Verlag (1959).
  • ''As nature requires whirlwinds and cyclones to release its excessive force in a violent revolt against its own existence, so the spirit requires a demonic human being from time to time whose excessive strength rebels against the community of thought and the monotony of morality ... only by looking at those beyond its limits does humanity come to know its own utmost limits.''
    Stefan Zweig (18811942), Austrian writer. Der Kampf mit dem Daemon (The Struggle with the Demon), p. 322, trans. by Marion Sonnenfeld, Insel Verlag (1929).
  • ''Immanuel Kant lived with knowledge as with his lawfully wedded wife, slept with it in the same intellectual bed for forty years and begot an entire German race of philosophical systems.''
    Stefan Zweig (18811942), Austrian writer. Der Kampf mit dem Daemon (The Struggle with the Demon), p. 256, trans. by Marion Sonnenfeld, Insel Verlag (1929).
  • ''Only the rare expands our minds, only as we shudder in the face of a new force do our feelings increase. Therefore the extraordinary is always the measure of all greatness. And the creative element always remains the value superior to all others and the mind superior to our minds.''
    Stefan Zweig (18811942), Austrian writer. Der Kampf mit dem Daemon (The Struggle with the Demon), p. 180, trans. by Marion Sonnenfeld, Insel Verlag (1929).
  • ''With Nietzsche, the black pirates' flag appears for the first time on the high sea of German knowledge. (He is) a different man, from a different race, (his,) a new kind of heroism, philosophy ... with bellicose weapons and armor.''
    Stefan Zweig (18811942), Austrian writer. Der Kampf mit dem Daemon (The Struggle with the Demon), p. 300, trans. by Marion Sonnenfeld, Insel Verlag (1929).
  • ''Art knows no happier moment than the opportunity to show the symmetry of an extreme, during that moment of spheric harmony when the dissonance dissolves for the blink of an eye, dissolves into a blissful harmony, when the most extreme opposites, coming together from the greatest alienation, fleetingly touch with lips of the word and of love.''
    Stefan Zweig (18811942), Austrian writer. Der Kampf mit dem Daemon (The Struggle with the Demon), p. 214, trans. by Marion Sonnenfeld, Insel Verlag (1929).
  • ''I call demonic the restlessness which is innate and essential in every human being ... (that which) drives one beyond one's limits into the infinite, into the elemental, as though nature had left behind in every individual soul an inexpressible, restless part of its original chaos, a part that wants to return with tension and passion to the super-human super-sensual element. The demon embodies the ferment, that bubbling, torturesome, upsetting ferment, which urges an otherwise calm life to move in the direction of all that is dangerous, towards excesses, ecstasy, selfdenial, selfdestruction; in most human beings, in the mediocre, this precious but dangerous part of the soul is soon absorbed and consumed ... restrained human beings stifle the Faustian drive within them, chloroform it with morality, dull it with work, restrain it with orderliness; the middle class person is always the mortal enemy of the chaotic.... But in superior human beings, especially in those who are productive, creative restlessness prevails in the form of dissatisfaction with everyday accomplishments.''
    Stefan Zweig (18811942), Austrian writer. Der Kampf mit dem Daemon (The Struggle with the Demon), pp. 910, trans. by Marion Sonnenfeld, Insel Verlag (1929).
  • ''(Heinrich von) Kleist would not be a Prussian if his first thought would not have been orderliness ... and he would not be a German if he had not placed all his hopes of developing this inner orderliness into education. Education is the secret of life for him as for every German: studying, learning a lot from books, sitting in lectures, keeping notebooks, listening intently to professors....''
    Stefan Zweig (18811942), Austrian writer. Der Kampf mit dem Daemon (The Struggle with the Demon), p. 180, trans. by Marion Sonnenfeld, Insel Verlag (1929).
  • ''Each of us, even the lowliest and most insignificant among us, was uprooted from his innermost existence by the almost constant volcanic upheavals visited upon our European soil and, as one of countless human beings, I can't claim any special place for myself except that, as an Austrian, a Jew, writer, humanist and pacifist, I have always been precisely in those places where the effects of the thrusts were most violent.''
    Stefan Zweig (18811942), Austrian writer. Die Welt von Gestern (The World of Yesterday), p. 7, trans. by Marion Sonnenfeld, S. Fischer Verlag (1955).

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Die Zärtlichkeiten

Ich liebe jene ersten bangen Zärtlichkeiten,
Die halb noch Frage sind und halb schon Anvertraun,
Weil hinter ihnen schon die anderen Stunden schreiten,
Die sich wie Pfeile wuchtend in das Leben baun.

Ein Duft sind sie, des Blutes flüchtigste Berührung,
Ein rascher Blick, ein Lächeln, eine leise Hand –
Sie knistern schon wie rote Funken der Verführung
Und stürzen Feuergraben in der Nächte Band.

[Hata Bildir]