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Burning Secret

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  4,866 ratings  ·  548 reviews
A suave baron takes a fancy to twelve-year-old Edgar's mother, while the three are holidaying in an Austrian mountain resort. His initial advances rejected, the baron befriends Edgar in order to get closer to the woman he desires. The initially unsuspecting child soon senses something is amiss, but has no idea of the burning secret that is driving the affair, and that will ...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published January 1st 2008 by Pushkin Press (first published 1913)
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Average rating 3.98  · 
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 ·  4,866 ratings  ·  548 reviews

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This is the story of Gustav von Aschenbach. No, wait a minute. I’m confused. It is Hans Castorp whom we follow. OMG, what a mess I’m making. We don’t really know the name of the protagonist. We only know that he is a Baron, and The Baron he remains for the rest of the book, although we later learn, in passing, the name of his father, Count Grundheim. But the Baron is the Baron, a type. He is a member of the second or third level of the complex aristocratic structure as it existed in the
Mar 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: german-lit
“The huntsman in him was aroused. He was intoxicated, excited to have found his right trail so quickly, to feel that the game was close to his gun. His eyes gleamed, the blood flowed easily through his veins, the words sprang from his lips with an effervescence that he himself could not explain." - Stefan Zweig, Burning Secret

We are introduced to a young baron who is on holiday and whose desire to seduce a married woman causes him to befriend her 12 year old son. Here I thought the focus of the
Ina Cawl
what an amazing novel by the greatest writer ever
this is a story of losing innocence, Children coming of age , learning to lie and also a little Freudian Oedipus Complex added
I really should have written this review closer to the time I read this novella, when my reasons for my arguments were fresher in my mind. All I know is that this is the least favorite of the Zweig "entrees" on my list this year. It failed to satisfy. I note the early publication date---that is undoubtedly a factor. Zweig was writing in an early, pre-World War One world, in a style that would be thrown over after the war.

This heavily mannered style is probably what bothered me the most and
A psychologically astute novella in which a 12-year-old tries to interpret what’s happening between his mother and a fellow hotel guest, a baron he looks up to. For this naïve boy, many things come as a shock, including the threat of sex and the possibility of deception. This reminded me most of Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice. I read a download from Project Gutenberg.
Vit Babenco
Jun 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Some are growing up slowly and become adult when their time comes, some just come of age without ever growing up and some only need a little push…
Edgar is a naive twelve-year old boy and the adult world is a mystery to him.
“A line was dug into his brow, the slight twelve-year-old looked almost old as he sat there brooding, without sparing a glance for the landscape unfolding its resonant colours all around: the mountains in the pure green of the coniferous forests, the valleys still young with
A lonely twelve-year-old boy Edgar, befriended a charming,lady-killer was some time before the naive Edgar realizes the true motives behind the Baron's kindness and interest, When his adored friend meanly give up on his friendship and turns his seductive attentions to his mother, the boy's jealousy and insecurity feelings of betrayal become uncontrollable, Once Edgar recognizes the truth,he is invaded by new and previously unknown emotions and new behaviors.....
It was painful for that
Lubinka Dimitrova
A powerful study in human nature. I can only be happy for the praiseworthy resurgence and admiration that many of Zweig's works are seeing lately. His close friendship with Freud has clearly affected his writings, where the main characters are often presented in "case histories", made more intriguing by the subtle observation of the inner workings of the protagonists. Here, the stages through which the young boy's relation with the Baron (and his own mother) passes through (admiration, ...more
May 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Bettie, Carey, Jema, Wanda
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

Opening lines:
THE train, with a shrill whistle, pulled into Summering. For a moment the black coaches stood still in the silvery light of the uplands to eject a few vivid human figures and to swallow up others. Exacerbated voices called back and forth; then, with a puffing and a chugging and another shrill shriek, the dark train clattered into the opening of the tunnel, and once more the landscape stretched before the view unbroken in all its wide
Jul 17, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novella
Wavers between histrionic and poignant, with poignancy winning out, thanks to some much needed dramatic tension at end. Chekhov or Babel might have made this material work in a short story, but novella is best suited to Zweig's vision; I did not wish it longer.

Very early Zweig, (1913) so it's probably not fair to compare it with later, powerful works like Chess Story, though the common them of manipulative power struggles, whether emotional or ideological, connects both works. Even with an
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This story follows a young Austrian baron, 'who drew admiring glances with his good clothes and the natural ease of his gait'; a mother, 'one of those rather voluptuous Jewish women just before the age of over-maturity, and obviously passionate, but with enough experience to conceal her temperament behind a facade of elegant melancholy'; and her son, Edgar, 'a shy, awkward, nervous boy of about twelve with fidgety movements and dark, darting eyes'.

Although one thinks this story will follow that
A very sharp little story. It subverts what seems to be a typical tale of seduction - set in a hotel, it tells of a lecherous baron setting his sights on a married woman - by focusing on the seductee's son, a highly sensitive 12-year-old. The bounder's strategy of capturing the boy's affections first quickly backfires: he develops a deep admiration of the baron, and is outraged when he's abandoned in favour of his mother's company. Unable to understand what the baron wants with her, he ...more
Oct 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, austrian-lit
This is the third of three beautiful little Pushkin Press editions of Stefan Zweig novellas that I found in the library. It is set in a hotel, a venue that Zweig seems especially fond of, probably because it allows for unexpected encounters. (Now I see how his writing inspired The Grand Budapest Hotel.) In contrast to the previous two novellas, Chess Story and 24 Hours In The Life Of A Woman, this one is not narrated in retrospect by a third party. For most of it, the narrator is a twelve year ...more
Feb 07, 2014 rated it liked it
The seed of manipulation has been planted in little Edgar and we can guess how this will shape him as an adult.
Oct 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
This was a fun little read. The story in a nutshell - a Lothario Baron, vacationing at an Austrian hotel, intends to make a middle-aged women his next conquest. His initial ruse involves befriending her son Edgar (recuperating at the mountain resort after an illness) so as to worm his way into her affections. He succeeds in this, but the novella is mainly interested in the psychological effect on little Edgar, used as a romantic prop and then discarded. He's right on the edge of adolescence and ...more
Çok akıcıydı
Sam Quixote
Dec 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
Set in a 1920s Austrian hotel resort, Edgar is 12 years old when the randy young Baron enters his life vying for his attention – except The Baron’s not really interested in him but his hot mom! When Edgar realises he’s been used, he acts as the ultimate cockblocker and realises profound things about childhood and adulthood on the cusp of adolescence. You’d think he’d be pleased he wasn’t going to be molested, eh? That’s upper class Austrian kids from the early 20th century for you!

Stefan Zweig
Over the past months I've read a number of Zweig's short stories and novellas and I've been struck by a common pattern. Zweig's settings and characters are almost invariably old-world Mitteleuropean but, on the other hand, the author's quasi-Freudian approach to analysing the conflicting emotions of his protagonists is very modern for its time. Zweig was writing against the backdrop of the rapidly changing world of the inter-war years and it seems that his books, with their internal friction ...more
May 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first I wasn't sure what to think of this story. The language and style seemed strange and artificial, but come to think of it, it was first published in 1911, a different world is being described, a world that came to an end soon after. It reminds me of Arthur Schnitzler's stories. The society was very hierarchical with the aristocracy taking advantage of commoners... The role of children then was that of muted bystanders, they were expected to behave and were easily betrayed. It took a long ...more
Nov 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

Last summer I read Stefan Zweig’s 1938 novel, Beware of Pity. It was a book group choice, one that gave rise to a really interesting debate about the moral dilemma at the centre of the story: should we tell the truth and risk crushing a vulnerable person’s spirit, or is it better to go with the flow in the hope of keeping their dreams alive? (There’s no easy answer to this question, btw – hence the power of the book.) While I loved the author’s prose style, I couldn’t help but wonder if
Tamar Nagel
Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This was a story that gripped me from the instant I started. Zweig is addicting to read, between his impeccable use of language and structure and the way he explores powerful themes. His stories are like musical compositions-- there is a steady, regular, careful progression of events while the emotions of the characters are volatile, rising and falling dramatically.

Burning Secret is a coming of age story, and Zweig perfectly captures the mingled confusion, anger, sadness, happiness, and wisdom
Apr 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
While watching beautiful, low hanging clouds move quickly across the sky today from a hill in a park, I thought of Zweig’s novella “Burning Secret”. *Spoiler to follow*
It reminded me of this line –
“Those white clouds that are seen only in May and June sailed past in the sky, a company clad all in white, still young and flighty themselves, playfully chasing over the blue firmament, hiding suddenly behind high mountains, embracing and separating again, sometimes crumpling up like handkerchiefs,
Viji  (Bookish endeavors)
Jun 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: stefan-zweig
This is an unusual story told in an unusual way. Well.. It's unusual for me,at least.. There is lust,there is innocence,there is trust and breach of trust,there is maternal love and there is also the craving of human body to possess and be possessed. These themes are there in the story,in the background,but what I felt resounding throughout was the death of innocence. As pages turned,I was trying to find out if that death was suicide or murder or assisted suicide. When the story began there was ...more
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A brilliant and suspenseful novella by a master. A young boy - 12 - is convalescing at a mountain resort accompanied by his mother. He meets a scheming womanizer who befriends the boy to get to the mother. The boy is at first taken in but wises up as soon as the he has served his purpose. The events that follow result in a forced maturation for the protagonist. His response to the situation is compelling and dramatic. Quite a large story for a novella. The language and the narrative are solid ...more
Shams Alizada
Jul 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm speechless. How can he describe every emotion so easily? No doubt he's god of writers.
Feb 01, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: deutsch
We begin to follow the unnamed Baron, a cynical seducer from a third-rate aristocracy, who is looking for a prey to pass the time while he is on a vacation in Semmering, an Austrian mountain resort. He sets his sights on an attractive middle-aged mother and conveniently befriends her 12-year-old son in order to get close to her.
At this point, we’re expecting a story of seduction and adultery, but seamlessly, Zweig changes the perspective, shifting the focus on the child. From this perspective,
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, pushkin
It took me two hours to finish this novella. The thing that struck me most about the author’s writing is the succinct, well thought, elegantly crafted prose present from the beginning till the end of the book. When we start off, the plot appears to be simple, but how Zweig builds up suspense and whirls out such a wonderful story is something which I am in awe of. Zweig was an Austrian author, born in Vienna in the year 1881.

A shy twelve year old, and his mother while vacationing fall prey to the
Sep 02, 2015 rated it liked it
2.5 stars.
doesnt feel like writting a review for this, as you read stefan zweig you know he describes and writes very well, and gets you very much involved in it, sometimes to such a level that you feel the emotions as i felt annoyed by that little Edward lol. it was a fine piece of literature to read. It was fascinating and adventurous at times though i am not satisfied by the ending of it, because of the level of curiosity he builds in the three quarters of the novella and drops it down in the
Veronika Kaufmann
Dec 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
The little kid Edgar was such a creepy hyperactive tyrannical brat, I just wanted to slap him even while to a certain extent, some sort of compassion seeped through. Probably because children in Austria, I've noticed, are still treated as if it were a 1910 imperialistically repressive society. The time the book was written obviously affects the nature of the story - repression, social status, morality - but I still couldn't stand the kid. In the story's defense, it's a novella. Not as good as ...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,
“Hiçbir şey zekayı tutkulu bir kuşku kadar bileyemez. Hiçbir şey olgunlaşmamış bir zihnin bütün olanaklarını karanlıkta kaybolan bir iz kadar harekete geçiremez.” 5 likes
“دائما ما نخطئ في تقدير قوة الحب لأننا نقيمه بأثره الحالي فقط ، لا بالتوتر الذي زال عند قدومه ، ثمة فضاء مظلم خاوٍ تملؤه الوحدة و اليأس يسبق كل الأحداث الرائعة في تاريخ القلب” 4 likes
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