The Post-Office Girl
The logic of capitalism, boom and bust, is unremitting and unforgiving. But what happens to human feeling in a completely commodified world? In The Post-Office Girl, Stefan Zweig, a deep analyst of the human passions, lays bare the private life of capitalism.
Christine toils in a provincial post office in post–World War I Austria, a count ...more
Actually, I would have enjoyed the book if it ended directly after Part 1 as a tragedy. It felt so emotional and real at that point, whereas Zweig lost his captive narration in Part 2 once he brought in Ferdinand's capitalism vs revolutionary vs complacency argument in the Vienna livingroom. Although it could be said, the novella was written to demonstrate this argument and that's why it ended as it did.(less) (hide spoiler)]
Suddenly a wealthy aunt and uncle from the United States invite her to visit with them on vacation in the Swiss Alps. For a little more than on ...more
FRAGMENTED IDENTITIES / FRAGMENTED NOVEL
One has to approach this novella with trepidation. Zweig did not publish it. The first and posthumous edition is from 1982, after a considerable reworking of Zweig’s drafts by Knut Beck. Zweig took his own life in a planned manner in February 1942, but before doing so he had sent to his publisher two manuscripts which he had just finished: his memoirs or Die Welt von Gestern. Erinnerungen eines Europäers and Schachnovelle. To leave this earlier work unfini ...more
I have a pet theory, my own personal belief why Stefan has been neglected. Before the dawn of the e-book, Zweig's novels were shelved in libraries and bookstores in that alphabetical no-man's land: the tail end of the last shelf, right next to those spare metal bookends that look like jetsam from the Millenium Falcon. I can honestly say I've never once, ever, browsed without purpose in the Z's ...more
To live again, after experiencing the brutality of war. To lose one's parent, one's home, one's trajectory; to feel mentally crippled after war has stripped one of everything one thought she was or could become, everything one thought about life. To see life anew, after being given a chance. To hope. To dream. To try and be 'normal' again: never af ...more
That extreme poverty is unimaginable, ... but as the reading went on, everything seemed to be based on one perverse judgment of the other...
On th ...more
When will it be me? When will it be my turn? What have I been dreaming about during these long empty mornings if not about being free someday from this meaningless grind, this deadly race against time? Relaxing for once, having some unbroken time to myself, not always in shreds, in shards so tiny you could cut your finger on them.
Life can sometimes seem to be arrested in a state of perpetual halt; the waiting for your chance that never ever comes. Not a moment of respite, not a moment withou ...more
The author, Stephan Zweig, though not that well known in the English-speaking world, is probably the best late representative of the culture of old Vienna, that urbane, tolerant, sophisticated and brilliant world ...more
First the bromides. Or axioms, or samplers. Those things that you read and nod to, but on second glance, well, here:
-- Happy people are poor psychologists.
-- Malice is always lucky.
-- The subject of a rumor is always the last to hear it.
-- It's one of the few advantages of age that one is rarely wrong abou ...more
Zweig’s “The Post Office Girl” is nothing short of a literary classic—a masterpiece ...more
What a strange and powerful -- and ultimately disappointing -- novel this is! I kept thinking how I would have enjoyed it, had it been made into a film. The awkward and unworkable layers would have been stripped clean and one would have been left with a diamond, no longer in the rough.
The "unworkable layers" cannot be ascribed to Zweig alone (or at all?) since this was a work published posthumously, having been on the writer's table for more than a decade, in the 1930s, while he alternatel ...more
What a beautifully dark and heart-wrenching tale this was! Like other Stefan Zweig novels that I have read even this had a strange impact on me. I felt restless while reading this. Neither I could continue reading nor could I stop. I loved the way how he forces his readers to get involved with his characters and their story even if they don’t want to wh ...more
" ...But it might be better not to know you're so poor, so disgustingly poor and wretched." -- Christine
This story, which takes place in Austria following World War One, centers around Christine (a lowly post office worker) and the internal psychological warfare she battles over the widened gaps between the social classes and economic equality. At 28, she lives a dreary, poverty-stricken existence dividing her time between work and caring for an ailing mother in their shared one room dwelling. ...more
There is a saying which tells us that what we've never had, we will never miss, which is probably true, but once having experienced the good life, how can anyone return to a boring and mundane existence without a sense of longing for what has been lost....
Christine, an impoverished post office worker in a small Austrian town, is to learn that for her, this saying is proved to be heartbreakingly true, because having been given a taste of the pleasures money can buy, and then having those thin ...more
This is a brilliant, thought provoking novel. It is a story of the haves and the have-nots, a story of contrasting fortunes. Yet there is no moral high ground. No one is right or wrong. The rich are supercilious and shallow. The ...more
Set in 1926 Austria, this is the story of 28 year old Christine, an unassuming and impoverished civil servant barely scraping by and with no prospects on her horizon. It is a world best described as:
“Every morning when I go to work I see people coming out of their front doors, underslept, cheerless, their faces blank, see them going to wor ...more
Christine was one such person, living in post-war Austria with her ailing mother, knowing nothing but poverty and a dreary job in her little town's post office. Her wealthy American aunt, having a sudden attack of conscience, decides ...more
After having read Zweig's "Chess Story", his memoir “The World of Yesterday” and his fabulous "Shooting Stars" (collection of small historical episodes with huge impact) it's getting impossible for me not to regard Zweig as one of the most underrated writers of the 20th century (I know he was popular in his own time, but I mean he's underrated nowadays, in Goodreads-era)
Each of these four (above mentioned) books ...more
Oh, the bitterness! I loved it. So many quotable passages.
(view spoiler)[Although how great wouldn't it have been if he'd killed her in the post office upon seeing all that cash, and robbed the place? I really thought that would happen. (hide spoiler)]
They almost seem like two parts of two completely different books, but they are both brilliant and, put together, the reader undergoes a shock halfway in similar to that that Christine undergoes.
Young Christine Hoflehner ...more
(view spoiler)[The ending has a couple of shocker's and after I read a bit about how the author and his wife ended their lives, the book seemed to make more sense. Not a book I would want to read again though.
Zweig studied in Austria, France ...more