The Viennas of Yesterday: Stefan Zweig is not ‘at home.

March 19, 2021

 

Who better than Stefan Zweig (1881-1942) to act as an introductory guide to the ‘new worldviews’ that emerged in Vienna, his birthplace and family home, between 1890 and 1935? The writer (who resided in Bath for a time after fleeing the Nazis) had an acute sense of what was meant by ‘home’ and how changing cultural and political events could alter one’s view of the concept of home. In this recording of a live online lecture that formed part of the BRLSI’s virtual symposium: “A New Worldview: Vienna’s Contribution to European Culture 1890 to 1935” Dr Richard Stamp, Director of Undergraduate Programmes in Humanities at Bath Spa University, examines some of the different senses of ‘home’ and ‘being at home’ through which he explores and expounds this cosmopolitan worldview – at once Viennese-Austrian, Jewish, European. It is often assumed that the cosmopolitan citizen feels equally ‘at home’ everywhere, a fraternal ideal accessible only to a privileged European class to which Zweig belonged, with homes in London, Bath, New York and Petrópolis, Brazil; yet throughout his stories and essays, we encounter characters – fictional and real, contemporary and historical – whose fates attest to a fragility also shared by their author. It is from this twin perspective, at once fiercely optimistic and mournfully pessimistic, that Zweig remembers the Viennas of his past.

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