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World Of Yesterday

4.43 of 5 stars 4.43  ·  rating details  ·  2,676 ratings  ·  252 reviews
Many of the earliest books, particularly those dating back to the 1900s and before, are now extremely scarce and increasingly expensive. Hesperides Press are republishing these classic works in affordable, high quality, modern editions, using the original text and artwork.
Paperback, 496 pages
Published 2009 by Pushkin Press (first published 1942)
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I have been struggling to write this review. I have a draft that keeps growing, with more quotes, more of my analysis, more words -- but as I write more, I worry that I am getting further away from Stefan Zweig, further away from this beautiful, sad, angry, insightful, anguished text.

So am I scrapping all those words, and starting over.

Stefan Zweig (1881-1942) wrote The World of Yesterday in desperate times. The unconventional memoir is a cri de coeur from Zweig, who stood for everything Hitler
Steve Sckenda
During the early days of the Second World War, Stefan Zweig delivered his quirky memoir to his publisher and then, a few months afterward, committed suicide jointly with his wife. They could no longer bear to look upon a world bent on its own destruction. In killing themselves, they mimicked the Europe that was committing cultural suicide before their own eyes.

Stefan Zweig was an Austrian, a Jew, a writer, a humanist, an intellectual, and a pacifist. The volcanic events of the 20th Century cut
Jun 15, 2014 Cheryl rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of the cultural life of Europeans between the World Wars
THE WORLD OF YESTERDAY by Stefan Zweig is a testament to the time between WWI and WWII, the life of the mind in Austria prior to Nazi occupation, and the terrors visited on the citizens who ultimately fled the horrors of the some tragic cases by their own hands.

This autobiography will challenge some current thinking on the first half of the 20th century with vivid details from a man more than capable of telling the story. Highest recommendation!

Once more I wandered down to the town to have a last look at peace.

Time is an invincible enigma. Every moment brings something new for us to keep our faith intact while every new day brutally shatters the long held belief about matters dear to one’s life. This paradoxical existence of seemingly benign hands of minutes, seconds and hours have made people witness the extent of human compassion as well as the chasm of inhuman atrocities; and when the smoke from glowing and extinguished embers of pa
"What a man has taken into his bloodstream in childhood from the air of that time stays with him."

I found it hard to write a review for this book. There was just so much I wanted to say.

A very nostalgic autobiography was what we were presented with here. I appreciated reading an account on how differently things were before the war. In the security chapter I couldn't help but be reminded of the Margaret McMillan talk I attended this Spring and how she said this period before WW1 was a very com

Several reviews have been written recently by my GRFriends on this book. To mention just a few, we have already those wonderful ones by: Kris, Elena, Yann, Garima..

There is therefore very little I can add. I will just write down a few thoughts.

I was struck that these memoirs contained a lot less about himself than I would have expected. And although he follows the chronology of his lifetime, he does not give many dates, nor does he refer to many external or even personal events. There is certa
If you had to live inside one of the following pictures, which one would you choose?

Choice A:

Pre-War Paris

Choice B:

Soliders in WWI Trench

.... I am going to assume that aside from either the excuse of insanity or... no I really can't think of another excuse, we're all on board with Choice A, yes?

Let's try this one more time. Just to make sure, okay? One more time. You have two choices:

Choice A:

Summer Lawn Party, 1920s

Choice B:
Soldiers in Swastika Formation

... Honestly, I am not trying to trick you. Once again, unless you are crazy, we're good with Choice A, yes?

All right then. I'm ju
I'd been having trouble settling into a string of novels, too impatient and restless and dissatisifed even with Tolstoy's Resurrection, zoning out, not looking forward to reading at all. Finally I said screw it and grabbed Zweig's memoir. By the time I'd made it through his preface it was like he'd administered a heaping dose of just what I need into my unsettled reading organ. I really did feel immediately healed, wanting nothing other than to settle down with Zweig's flowing sentences, his sel ...more

I think his world had vanished long before he ever entered it. But I will say, he certainly sustained the illusion with a marvelous grace!
-Mr. Mustafa, The Grand Budapest Hotel

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to see the most recent Wes Anderson movie, The Grand Budapest Hotel. Though my lowly opinion of his work had whipped back and forth from brilliant emotional set pieces to stuffy kitsch, this most recent movie had thankfully one of amazement, of gratitude, and loss.

The plot of the mov
This is a wonderfully poignant portrait of a "world of yesterday", specifically the world of turn-of-the century Vienna, and of European culture prior to the First World War. Stefan Zweig was born in Vienna in 1881, and was thus a young man during the decade preceding the War. His family was well off, and he was brought up surrounded by culture of every kind. He is now a writer mostly forgotten, but one who was judged in the 1920s and 1930s to be one of the most famous writers in the world. He w ...more
Aug 12, 2014 Erwin rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Erwin by: Kalliope
This memoir is an exceptionally beautiful piece of art and literature! Stefan Zweig takes his readers on a journey of a lifetime (literally too). He succeeds to capture the Zeitgeist of more than half a century (and what a time indeed: the final years of the 19th century, the Great War and the years leading up to the Second World War) and makes it come alive. It was hard to put the book down before going to sleep at nights. I regretted Having to leave the book untouched for days because of work ...more
Jul 07, 2014 Sue rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in memoirs, European history
Recommended to Sue by: Kris
I have delayed writing this review in hopes that some inspiration will come (perhaps writing it for me) but no, I do have to perform the task from my own brain. This is perhaps one of the most melancholy memoirs I've read. While Zweig provides an often golden-hued picture of the Europe of his youth, the turn of the century Vienna of the final years of the Hapsburg Empire, he also tells us of his (sometimes impersonal) memories of life in Austria during and after The Great War, the years of terri ...more
On Stefan Zweig, "Die Welt von gestern": I just put the book down a few moments ago. Normally I like to marinate in a text a while before commenting. Zweig, unlike Thomas Mann, wrote in a spontaneous, fluid, conversational, druckreif style, and deserves an immediate unlabored impression. And the impression is one of overwhelming loss. In fact he lost his world twice. Reading this in 2014, exactly 100 years since his world fell apart the first time, makes me realize how fragile our culture is. Zw ...more
As with many of the books I read with a group, I'm having a hard time writing a review for this. My GR friends' reviews of this work are so good that anything more feels superfluous. So, because this is a memoir, I've decided to use that as inspiration to review my own impressions.

My first conscious memory of Zweig is very recent, from when I read Kris' review of this same work. My brain made a connection of the name Zweig with the Woody Allen movie Zelig (not that I've seen it). Knowing the pre
Lynne King
On this link is the definitive review, I feel, by Kris and the reason why I read this book in the first place:

This is the most wonderful book imaginable. I really cannot say anything further.

How can I possibly expound being a mere mortal on what this individual went through in his life and then finally to commit suicide with his wife in a joint pact. Such philosophical thoughts. It's mind blowing.

An absolutely remarkable book. I actually confess to being h
...after all, shadows themselves are born of light.

...toda sombra es, al fin y al cabo, hija de la luz.

- Stefan Zweig, The World of Yesterday/El Mundo de Ayer


There are people that breathe nostalgia every day. They enjoy it, they suffer it. They stare at some object and a million memories come to mind. People, friends, lovers, happiness, regrets. They are usually looking back wishing for the past to become present. For that little part of the world they knew and that it felt much safer than t
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 31, 2007 lisa_emily rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Weimerophiles
Zweig's name is no longer recognized as a major writer now, although he was the most translated author during his heyday. He was friends with some of the most well-known names of culture and intelligentsia: Rilke, Freud, Richard Strauss, Maksim Gorky and so on. He penned a wide variety of works from biographical studies to novellas and operas. World of Yesterday, however, is his memoir, published after his suicide of 1942.
I was initially attracted to this book because of my current interest in t
Diane Barnes
This book is a memoir not of Stefan Zweig and his life, but rather of a magical time before WWI, and the dawning of the new world ushered in between the two greatest wars of the 20th century. Beautifully written and heartbreakingly honest, but hard to read knowing that the author and his wife took their lives in 1942, believing that the world had truly gone mad and there was no hope for civilization. I really wanted to give this 5 stars, but just couldn't do it, and I'm not sure why. Maybe I'll ...more

Stefan Zweig. First Trip to Brazil, 1936.

I enjoyed reading the memoirs of Stefan Zweig and found his eyewitness accounts of life in Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries both fascinating and revealing. He speaks of the stability that older generations had taken for granted becoming unrecognizable during the turbulent decades of World War I and beyond. I’ve always been curious about this period in history, when the arrival of new technology like the automobile, telegraph, and aeroplan
On reading this book, my first thought is that this is much more than a biography. It is a portrait of an era and a love letter to Stefan Zweig’s beloved Europe; written after he was forced into exile by the onslaught of fascism. However, the book begins with Zweig growing up in Austria, prior to WWI, in, what he terms, the Golden Age of Security. Austria seemed to have a stable government and consistency in the Habsburg monarchy. There was a sense of order and everyone knew their place in socie ...more
عالم الأمس

لو كان هناك قانون يجرم الذين يعيشون حياة مليئة من الأدباء والسياسيين، الاقتصاديين والعلماء، الباحثين وغيرهم، ثم لا يكتبون عن هذه الحياة، لا يحولون تجاربهم إلى كلمات، لو كان هذا القانون موجودا ً لربما كان أكثر المدانين من العرب.

فالعرب ولا فخر مقلون في كتابة السيرة الذاتية، بعكس الغربيين والذين تجد لمشاهيرهم سير متعددة، بل لديهم كتاب سير متخصصين.

وهذا ما كانه (ستيفان زفايج) في جزء من أعماله، كاتب سير ذاتية، كتب عن بلزاك، ديكنز، دستويفسكي، نيتشه، ستاندال، تولستوي، وها هو في هذا الكتاب ا
I was somewhat disappointed in this one, and ended up skipping around a lot. This old (and anonymous) translation is stiff and quite unappealing, and while there are certainly many interesting stories, there is also a looseness in the prose and the book runs on a bit verbosely.

There are some very interesting insights in the Hitler chapter, but Zweig soon escaped and lived in relative peace, and so was not the best witness (as he admits) for the events he subsequently lived through.

He seems to
Just a few words for now: a review to follow.

This book taught me more about the origins of both World Wars and the time between in Germany and Austria than all the other books I have read, high school courses taken, and movies watched put together. And the impact is intense.

And the knowledge that Zweig could not, in the end, handle his final displacement overwhelmingly sad after feeling so close to him for so many pages and weeks of reading. I can't really comment on the prose from the translati
Mikel Mancisidor
Me tuvo fascinado durante semanas: tierno, humano, inteligente, elegante, sabio… un libro que sabe a otra época. Recuerdo que era un autor que le gustaba mucho a mi abuelo y sólo comprendo el porqué ahora que él ya no está aquí para compartirlo. El libro se hace humano hasta sentirlo físicamente casi como un dolor en el alma. Sabiduría de otro tiempo anterior a que el especticismo y el cinismo ganaran. Esperanza en el desastre. Humanismo del siglo XX que nos debe servir para afrontar mejor el XX ...more
A poet, novelist, dramatist and biographer, Stephan Zweig (1881-1942) was a brilliant writer, documenting both historical lives and his own. His non-fiction includes literary biographies that are seldom read today, but The World of Yesterday remains in print and is his personal memoir of growing up in fin de siecle Austria and the early years of the twentieth century. Written the year before he died, the book is a testament to his life - one that was formed in a world before the devastation of t ...more
Absolutamente maravilloso.Un libro imprescindible y que sigue manteniendo fresco su espíritu después de tantos años desde su publicación. Zweig se revela como un adelantado a su época en este libro autobiográfico.Debería ser de obligada lectura en institutos.
Mihaela Naftanaila

Această carte a lui Stefan Zweig vă poate ajuta să luați pauze lungi și dese de la activități mai anoste pe care, poate, le practicați zi de zi. Este un roman bine scris, care ia forma unui jurnal autobiografic și care analizează cele două războaie mondiale mai mult dintr-o perspectivă socială și culturală. Cartea a fost finalizată în 1942, an în care scriitorul s-a sinucis, convins fiind că nu își va mai găsi rostul intelectual, în lumea cea nouă, a fascismului, comunismului și naționalismului
Frieda Vizel
Loved this autobiography. I love autobiographies in general, but all the more if it is insightful, has something important to say about life and history and is not egocentric. And it's even better if the author is likeable, which Zweig - with his humility, intellect, pacifism, liberalism, analysis and love for art - was to me.

Zweig's memoir is as interesting for the story of a literary icon as it is for the historical backdrop in which it's told: 1880-1940; Vienna in its cultural and artistic h
This book often felt like a guilty pleasure. The whole thing is just wondering around different European cities with a croissant in one hand, a coffee and novel/notebook in a satchel. Which by the way as soon as I get my mysterious inheritance from a long lost relative, you know the second cousin trice removed, that is what I plan to do - travel the world with coffee and different kinds of pastries.

I am a particular sucker when it comes to Europe in the first half the 20th century, and Zweig ad
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Stefan Zweig was one of the world's most famous writers during the 1920s and 1930s, especially in the U.S., South America and Europe. He produced novels, plays, biographies and journalist pieces. Among his most famous works are Beware of Pity, Letter from and Unknown Woman and Mary, Queen of Scotland and the Isles. He and his second wife committed suicide in 1942.

Zweig studied in Austria, France,
More about Stefan Zweig...
Chess Story Beware of Pity Amok and Other Stories The Post-Office Girl Vingt-quatre heures de la vie d'une femme

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“Only the person who has experienced light and darkness, war and peace, rise and fall, only that person has truly experienced life.” 73 likes
“For I regard memory not as a phenomenon preserving one thing and losing another merely by chance, but as a power that deliberately places events in order or wisely omits them. Everything we forget about our own lives was really condemned to oblivion by an inner instinct long ago.” 38 likes
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