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Letter from an Unknown Woman and Other Stories

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  2,013 ratings  ·  142 reviews
Stefan's Zweig's Letter from an Unknown Woman and other stories contains a new translation by the award-winning Anthea Bell of one of his most celebrated novellas, Letter from an Unknown Woman , the inspiration for a classic 1948 Hollywood film by Max Ophüls, as well as three new stories, appearing in English for the first time.

A famous author receives a letter on his fort
Paperback, 153 pages
Published 2013 by Pushkin Press (first published 1922)
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 ·  2,013 ratings  ·  142 reviews

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5 huge stars for such emotional and heartbreaking short stories

It's been years since I discovered Stefan Zweig. My aunt recommended to me a book she adores, Burning Secret and I was immediately hooked by his writing style. She knew I read mostly romance and even if his work is SO far from what I usually enjoy, well she had a feeling I might be into this too.

What can I say about Stefan Zweig's work? How can I describe best my feelings while reading his stories? It's very hard to explain in wor
Katie Lumsden
Jun 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this - a tender, moving and so well written short story collection, looking at unrequited love, obsession and changes in lives over time. I'd highly recommend. ...more
Steven Godin
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Exceptionally good short stories. I turned to this after reading his brilliant novel Beware of Pity and the equally good Chess Story. For me, Zweig is on a level here like that of de maupassant or chekhov when it comes to writing short fiction. He also reminded me of another Austrian, Arthur Schnitzler, with his intuitive use of psychological detail within his narrative.

Four stories are included, which doesn't seem much, but it's certainly a case of quality over quantity. All are captivating an
Paul Bryant
Sep 02, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories

There are four stories in this book and disturbingly, two of them are about teenage girls becoming obsessed, besotted, infatuated with inappropriately older men. The title track, “Letter from an Unknown Woman”, is early-Pedro-Almodovar melodramatic to say the very least, gothically morbid and full of unacceptable behaviour. Well, what would you call it if (view spoiler)
Raghdaa Morad
Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"Letter from an unknown woman" such a pathetic & strongly emotional and frustrating sad story .. I can't help but feel sorry for poor little heroine her great big love had ruined her entire life she suffered a lot specially the loss of her child i only wished she was a little stronger💔

Loved The movie it was great too and I so much love classical movies hopefully one day i will create my own classical DVDs library.
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have to admit that Zweig is fast becoming one of my all-time great writers. I absolutely loved this short stories book and it’s a genre that I don’t usually like or get that engaged with. This book comprises 4 stories and 3 of them were amazing - 2 in particular. The first one which the book is named after is about a letter that a 40 something year old writer received from a woman that he barely recognises but this woman has loved him her entire life. The letter is a confession of the lifelong ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
These four stories all center on first love. In each, it produces a sort of melancholy. The title story is indeed, almost entirely a letter recounting a love that began at age 13. The love becomes almost an obsession and lasts a lifetime, though the love is unrequited. The second, A Story told in Twilight, begins and ends in youth. The story itself covers just a few nights. The third, A Debt Paid Late is probably my favorite. This involves a letter to a childhood friend recounting a love they bo ...more
Jul 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
As I’ve probably said in every review of a short story collection that I’ve ever written, I generally don’t have much time for short stories not written by Borges. I made an exception for ‘Letter from an Unknown Woman’ because The Post-Office Girl was utterly fantastic, so any Zweig book that I could find in the library seemed well worth a try. The four stories here don’t add up to the same incredible experience as that full length novel, however they are still compelling and rather beautiful. A ...more
Megan Davis
May 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
I loved these stories. They were my introduction to Zweig. I picked the book up by chance at the library, and quickly became delighted.

The first story/novella, "Letter From An Unknown Woman," is by far the best of the four. It left such an impression on me. I can't really explain to you what it felt like reading that, as a girl who had had similar dreams about one person, and only one person, for nearly two decades.

I also really enjoyed "The Debt Paid Late" for similar reasons.

All of the stor
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read my first Stefan Zweig book last year. It was called 'A Game of Chess and other stories'. I fell in love with it - with the stories and with Zweig's prose. So I decided to read my second Zweig book, 'Letter from an Unknown Woman'. This book has four stories, the title story and three others - 'A Story Told in Twilight', 'A Debt Paid Late' and 'Forgotten Dreams'. The first three are the length of a long short story or a short novella - somewhere between forty and fifty pages. The last one i ...more
Nhi Nguyễn
The thing that I love about these two short stories in this book is the way the author organize the stories, and the way he told them with such deep sympathy and emotions. I don't know about his other stories, but through these two, I can tell that he's a man that really has a gift for understanding women and their nature in love :))

I love how the author just let the characters speak for themselves, telling the stories from the first person perspective, which makes the stories more real, helping
Oct 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: austria
Light, nostalgic and poignant short stories regarding love as well as its enduring power.

a) Letter from an Unknown Woman

But why describe this raving, tragic, hopeless devotion on the part of an abandoned child feeling angry with herself, why describe it to a man who never guessed at it or knew about it?

You did not recognize me, neither then nor ever, you never recognized me. How can I describe to you, beloved, the disappointment of that moment? That was the first time I suffered it, the disappoi
May 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016-read
Just finished the first story and it worths a five-star. The story is deeply sad and pathetic. Reminds me of some pathetic old days. The pain was so real and it lasts for years. I'm shocked that I still feel it when I read this story today. Love is always one's own business. Indeed. All the painful happiness I've tried to hide carefully; all the struggles I've been through without making a sound; all the tears I've shed in the darkness. You never know. ...more
Kressel Housman
Dec 23, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
I hardly ever give 1-star reviews because when I dislike a book, I usually just stop reading it, but I actually liked this book at the beginning. It's well-written and emotionally gripping, but eventually, the portrayal of the protagonist became completely unrealistic.

The book is written as a long letter written by a woman to the man she loves, but because he's been with so many women in his life, she doesn't expect him to know her. When she first falls in love with him, she's an adolescent, an
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
A Letter from Unknown Woman - 4/5
A Story Told in Twilight - 3/5
The Debt Paid Late - 5/5
Forgotten Dreams - 5/5

Overall: 4/5

First two were meh, they seemed too childish to me (when did i exactly turn into an old grandma??), but the last two were amazing. I wish I wrote the last one myself (especially that last sentence, Zweig is a real short story master).
Stephen Durrant
Sep 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I have greatly enjoyed everything I have ever read by Stefan Zweig—from his masterful “Days of Yesterday” to his biographies, particularly his “Marie Antoinette”—and this small collection of four short stories is no exception. I suppose it is Zweig’s now slightly passé humanism that attracts me so much to his work, and, of course, his talent as a storyteller. These stories all, in one fashion or another, speak of love. In the first, a man receives a letter from someone who has always loved him o ...more
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017, europe
"Letter of an Unknown Woman"... My first encounter with Zweig was through his little known (and most probably unfinished) last novel "The Post-Office Girl" which I loved so much I started reading his other works. Well, this one was a severe letdown for me. Melodramatic, repetitive, "what-else-can-I-throw-in-there-to-make-you-weep-my-dear-reader" type of story. I'm not a fan of suffering for the sake of suffering and Zweig is obviously into it. We wouldn't get along had we met at a book club disc ...more
Katy Noyes
Feb 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Wow. My uncle recommended the author to me, I'd seen the film of the first story so thought I'd try it.
Excellent short stories. And you know, they felt like novels - the detail, plots, characterisation I usually complain is absent in short stories were all present and correct. Great ideas, excellent narrations and styles (letters, looking to the past, inner thoughts), with a theme and slight connection running through. Admittedly the final one I didn't like but at 9 pages I just didn't have much
William Burr
Sep 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
The style of Zweig's writing is very reminiscent of the Wes Anderson movie "The Grand Budapest Hotel." It's a romantic, elegant style.

I enjoyed these stories very much. They all deal with love, and also with crushes - with the way we can become obsessed with a person we have a crush on.

They're very well done.

At the moments when I feared that the pace of the stories was slowing down a bit, each time, Zweig would catch my attention again shortly after with a plot development or a clever observati
Justin Labelle
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
This was a severe letdown.
While the short stories/novellas are readable, they are simple regurgitations of one another. Sturburness in face of love. Regret. Holding a flame. Chance encounters. You've read this before and you've read it done better.

That being said, Zweig is a good writer. He keeps a solid pace, but these stories are outdated and generally read like mid afternoon soap operas.
Maybe it's just the wrong stories to start with but I am trying to figure where Wes Anderson got his inspi
Joyce Lian
Aug 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wow, as good as the movie. Will interest any reader from the first line, a highly emotional, & heart-wrenching unrequited love story. Every time the female protagonist mentioned about her dead child,it was so touching that I wanted to cry at her wretched life. Everyone should read Zweig and this is a good book to start.

(Did you know?:he was invited to give eulogy at freud's and also earned the admiration of Hesse)
Paloma Meir
Jan 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
So beautifully written, it's as if Mr. Zweig is a lost Bronte. Heartbreaking, I think I'll spend the next couple of weeks reading all of his books. ...more
Alya AlShaibani
Nov 11, 2016 rated it liked it
Most of these stories left me indifferent (my initial rating was a 2.5) but the last one, Forgotten Dreams, managed to make it to my all-time favorites list. 3.5
Read one of these (no spoiler) - literally incredible at moments, but devastating nonetheless.
Bradd Saunders
It’s not surprising that Stefan Zweig was a very popular writer in his day. His prose, his literary style all speak of another era, one in which the written word was the ultimate form of entertainment and seen, finally, as the best and most enjoyable access into subjects that were considered mature.

Because of the constraints imposed on him in the polite society of 1920s Austria, it was impossible, given his fascinations, to be direct and so he had to settle for a very sophisticated, artful form
M'aiq the Lair
Jul 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
limerence is dangerous and dementing, but it's entrenched in human nature to be narcissistically servile. One needs greater vision and greater goal lest they be spent a by phantom obsession. ...more
Oct 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I think I was just talking with someone about the last book I gave 5 stars to and when it was. Well, it was today ;-). There really is only one Zweig and he was a super gifted writer. Most of the world was exposed to him through the goofy Budapest Hotel movie, which while an entertaining movie doesn't really show off his writing talent. I love this guy - he can really draw out a character's inner world. This book has 4 stories of obsession and blind love and longing and the results of such thing ...more
Jan 07, 2018 rated it liked it
The Kindle book I got had only the novella Letter from an unknown woman.
It's a story of an unrequitted love, sad and tragic. Albeit a bit melodramatic but the skilled writing makes one continue reading.
A very famous novelist who has everything that life can offer name, fame, money, women doesn't even realise that the child and later on the woman loves him so dearly. Their paths cross a numvber of times, very intimately too, but he takes her any other woman he interacts with. It's only in the las
Fred Voon
Feb 22, 2016 rated it liked it
There is a thick thread that runs through the four stories in this collection. They're all about old flames, unrequited love, suppurating infatuations. #1 and #3 were enjoyable for me, particularly #1, the titular piece. At first, I couldn't stand the madness of the woman:
I didn't want to live happy and content away from you; I entrenched myself in a dark world of self-torment and loneliness.
I was like SO. DRAMA. I kennut. But somehow I was defeated by its power in the end, partly because it m
Lara Freitas
Apr 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
The writing itself was very good (specially the descriptions of the settings), as were the premises, but I was disappointed at how flat all the characters were. The women actually seemed to be all the same, and I'm guessing it's just the case of yet another male author who can't write women as humans with more interesting things to do and think besides obsess about men. Boring, boring, done a thousand times over. The men were also flat but at least had varying personalities, although the first m ...more
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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 an Unknown Woman, and Mary, Queen of Scotland and the Isles. He and his second wife committed suicide in 1942.

Zweig studied in Austria, France

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