Stefan Zweig, circa 1900

A Stefan Zweig Discussion

Wednesday May 14, 2014
07:00 pm

Tags: Event









Photo credit: Elisabeth Prochnik  |  Photo credit: Nina Subin

Authors George Prochnik and James Lasdun discussed Stefan Zweig, the provocative Austrian writer who was the inspiration for Wes Anderson's recent film The Grand Budapest Hotel. The event will include a discussion, Q&A, and wine reception.



About The Impossible Exile: Stefan Zweig at the End of the World (Other Press)

An original study of exile, told through the biography of Austrian writer Stefan Zweig.

By the 1930s, Stefan Zweig had become the most widely translated living author in the world. His novels, short stories, and biographies were so compelling that they became instant best sellers. Zweig was also an intellectual and a lover of all the arts, high and low. Yet after Hitler’s rise to power, this celebrated writer who had dedicated so much energy to promoting international humanism plummeted, in a matter of a few years, into an increasingly isolated exile—from London to Bath to New York City, then Ossining, Rio, and finally Petrópolis—where, in 1942, in a cramped bungalow, he killed himself.


The Impossible Exile tells the tragic story of Zweig’s extraordinary rise and fall while it also depicts, with great acumen, the gulf between the world of ideas in Europe and in America, and the consuming struggle of those forced to forsake one for the other. It also reveals how Zweig embodied, through his work, thoughts, and behavior, the end of an era—the implosion of Europe as an ideal of Western civilization.


The Impossible Exile is not only a riveting study of one of the major literary émigrés of the Nazi era, but also a profound meditation on the nature of fame, the intersection of politics and art, and the condition of exile itself. Tracing the final, tumultuous phase of Zweig’s career from cosmopolitan Vienna to the small city in Brazil where he met his melancholy end, Prochnik brings a sympathetic but unsparing eye to his subject and in the process makes the best case I’ve read for the continued importance of this cultured, humane, yet fascinatingly complicated figure.”

 — James Lasdun, author of Give Me Everything You Have


George Prochnik's essays and reviews have been published in The New Yorker, Cabinet Magazine, The New York Times, The LA Review of Books, Bookforum and The Boston Globe, among other places. His new book, The Impossible Exile: Stefan Zweig at the End of the World, will be published in May. He has taught English and American literature at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, is editor-at-large for Cabinet Magazine, and is the author of In Pursuit of Silence: Listening for Meaning in a World of Noise, and Putnam Camp: Sigmund Freud, James Jackson Putnam, and the Purpose of American Psychology.


James Lasdun was born in London and has lived in the States since 1986. He has written several books of fiction and poetry and two screenplays, including Sunday, which won Best Feature and Best Screenplay awards at Sundance. Other awards include the UK National Short Story Prize, the TLS Poetry Prize,  and nominations for the LA Times Book Award and the TS Eliot Poetry Prize. His first novel The Horned Man was a New York Times Notable Book. His second, Seven Lies, was long-listed for the Booker Man Prize. His short story ‘The Siege’ was adapted by Bernardo Bertolucci for his film ‘Besieged’, and his last collection of stories, It’s Beginning to Hurt, was listed as a Book of the Year by the Atlantic Monthly, the Wall Street Journal and the LA Times. His most recent book is a memoir, Give Me Everything You Have: On Being Stalked. His New and Selected Poems will be published by FSG next year.