The World of Yesterday


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Stefan Zweig wrote a breathtaking autobiography called "The World of Yesterday." This book takes a look at Europe around the turn of the century. Although recognized as an autobiography, I believe the book is more of a suicide note for the talented author. There are a few reasons that I believe lead to this conclusion. It can be interpreted that the way it is written is in the form of a suicide note. Also, the tone of the book, although written to be completely factual, has sort of a depressing side. I find the book more interesting to think about when thought about as a declaration of death, even if the fact of the matter is that no one will ever know the truth.

A suicide is committed when a person believes there is nothing more for them. They believe that the past is much greater than the future could ever be. Sometimes, it's a way of having complete control over their lives. A suicide note is written for a couple of reasons. They are written to let loved ones know that they were cared for. They are written to give the reasons of the decision. Finally, they are written to be heard. Stefan Zweig had committed suicide. It is not sure why, but one can speculate. He had seen, literally, the best of times and the worst of times. He had experienced the "world of security" and the take over by the Nazi party in Germany. Through his book, "The World of Yesterday," Zweig describes the downfall of Europe in his eyes.

"But during those years I lived in England only spatially and not with my whole soul. It was just my worry about Europe, that worry which pressed painfully upon our nerves for all those years..."

Zweig had shown through his writing that he had now had little hope in the future.

"It may be that I had been too greatly pampered. Perhaps, too, my sensibility had gradually become unstrung through all the harsh reverses of the past years."

The tone of the book starts to take a more depressing outlook after the mentioning of World War II. Zweig describes the break up of Europe into smaller pieces and his dismay with this result.

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"The World of Yesterday." 123HelpMe.com. 11 Dec 2017
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Zweig even mentions suicide. The way he describes it, even though he is describing Freud, is chilling in the fact that he makes it sound heroic.

"The struggle of (Freud's) strongest will, this most penetrating mind of our time against destruction became increasingly cruel; only when he himself realized clearly--he, to whom clarity always had been the highest quality of thinking--that he would not be able to continue to write, to function, like a Roman hero he permitted the doctor to end his pain."

It almost comes off that he admires Freud for his decision and in his description of the greatness of this man, shows that he looked up to him and respected him, even after his choice in death.

This book is not only the eulogy of Europe but the eulogy of a fantastic author. "The World of Yesterday" is a dark look into the mind of a brilliant writer. Through this book, Zweig is able to tell the story of a land he loved and his own life. He wanted to let many know what he was thinking when he chose to end his life without directly saying it. He does a great job through this book and you learn that Stefan Zweig is just a man. He is just a man who had seen too much and believed that there was nothing more for him in this world.

"And only he who has experienced dawn and dusk, war and peace, ascent and decline, only he has truly lived."



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