Confusion

The Private Papers of Privy Councillor R. Von D.

By Stefan Zweig; Anthea Bell (Translator); George Prochnik (Introduction by)
(New York Review of Books, Paperback, 9781590174999, 153pp.)

Publication Date: May 29, 2012

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Description

Stefan Zweig was particularly drawn to the novella, and Confusion, a rigorous and yet transporting dramatization of the conflict between the heart and the mind, is among his supreme achievements in the form.

A young man who is rapidly going to the dogs in Berlin is packed off by his father to a university in a sleepy provincial town. There a brilliant lecture awakens in him a wild passion for learning—as well as a peculiarly intense fascination with the graying professor who gave the talk. The student grows close to the professor, be­coming a regular visitor to the apartment he shares with his much younger wife. He takes it upon himself to urge his teacher to finish the great work of scholarship that he has been laboring at for years and even offers to help him in any way he can. The professor welcomes the young man’s attentions, at least on some days. On others, he rages without apparent reason or turns away from his disciple with cold scorn. The young man is baffled, wounded. He cannot understand.

But the wife understands. She understands perfectly. And one way or another she will help him to understand too.




About the Author
Stefan Zweig (1881-1942) was an outstanding Austrian novelist, playwright, journalist, and biographer whose work became very popular in the US, South America, and Europe especially between the 1920s and 1930s. In 1904 he earned his doctorate degree in philosophy at the University of Vienna. Throughout his life he remained a pacifist, and instead of becoming a soldier at the start of World War I, he worked in the Archives of the Ministry of War. He became friends with notable people in history, including Romain Rolland, Sigmund Freud, and Arthur Schitzler. Among his most famous writings are Beware of Pity, Chess Story, and his memoir The World of Yesterday.

Oliver Potzsch, born in 1970, has worked for years as a scriptwriter for Bavarian television. He is a descendant of one of Bavaria's leading dynasties of executioners. Potzsch lives in Munich with his family.

George Prochnik's essays, poetry, and fiction have appeared in numerous journals. He taught English and American literature at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and has also worked as a counselor for the chronically mentally ill. He lives in New York City.
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