Stefan Zweig on Fyodor Dostoevsky

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In the spring of 2021 the Literature Archive Salzburg succeeded in purchasing at auction a brief and previously unrecorded text in which Stefan Zweig discusses the Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky. The bicentennial of Dostoevsky’s birthday, celebrated on 11 November 2021 (Gregorian style), provides the occasion for the first presentation of this document. The historical context of this single typewritten page has not so far been fully resolved. Zweig’s holograph annotation “For your question about Dostojewsky” would appear to suggest that it was written for a British or American literary questionnaire. Conceivably it is to be dated to 1931, the 50th anniversary of Dostoevsky’s death.

In his contribution, Stefan Zweig provides a short summary of what fascinated him most about Dostoevsky’s work. His opinion of the writer’s position in literary history is unambiguous. While his remarks contain no surprising insights, they are based on intensive studies of Dostoevsky’s biography and writings, a preoccupation that began for Stefan Zweig even before the First World War, at a time when Dostoevsky’s books were widely published and discussed throughout Western Europe. Having read Dostoevsky closely, Zweig intended to write an essay on the author, and in 1912 he submitted a proposal for a text of some 50 pages to the then-nascent Insel-Bücherei, in which series, however, it never appeared. That same year Zweig was successful in acquiring an original manuscript by Dostoevsky for his autograph collection. This was also the time when Zweig wrote the poem Der Märtyrer (The Martyr) about Dostoevsky’s near-execution following his conviction for crimes against the Russian state. Zweig first published it in 1913 and later included it under the title Heroischer Augenblick (Heroic Moment) in his collection Sternstunden der Menschheit (Decisive Moments in History).

Several chapters of Zweig’s essay, which by then had far outgrown the projected scope of fifty pages, appeared in 1914 as separate articles in various literary journals, and then were again extensively revised by Zweig. The outbreak of the First World War and the ensuing political situation forestalled the intended publication of the complete text. It was only after the War that Zweig again found opportunities to speak out on Dostoevsky. His essay was now used for the introduction to the 25-volume Collected Works which Insel Verlag launched in 1921 to commemorate Dostoevsky’s 100th birthday. Zweig also gave several lectures on the subject; a revised typescript of one of these presentations has survived.

Most important, however, was the publication of the essay in Zweig’s book Drei Meister (Three Masters), which appeared in 1920, also with Insel. It is significant that in this volume of discourses on Honoré de Balzac, Charles Dickens, and Fyodor Dostoevsky, issued only two years after the end of the War, Zweig collected texts about eminent literary representatives of three nations which had quite recently been Austria’s and Germany‘s foes on the battlefield. Here, Zweig discovered his specific form of biographical and literary-historical essay that would serve him so well in several other works, including two sequel volumes to the Three Masters, which would remain among Zweig’s best-selling titles until the appearance of his much more extensive biographies, such as Marie Antoinette.

Klawiter Bibliography at www.stefanzweig.digital

Zweig-Bibliographie von Randy Klawiter

Many of you will already have received the sad news that Randolph J. "Randy" Klawiter passed away on July 19 of this year at the age of 90 (an obituary can be found here). To Randy Klawiter's decades of work we owe the important and unprecedentedly comprehensive bibliography of Stefan Zweig's works, first published in book form and later continued online.

Together with the Daniel A. Reed Library at SUNY Fredonia, and with the grateful support of Randy Klawiter's heirs, we intend to preserve his life's work and continue the bibliography in his spirit at www.stefanzweig.digital.

Randy's work also carried on with references to new literature or previously undiscovered works by or about Stefan Zweig, which contributors from all over the world sent to him. We would like to ask you to keep up this important commitment and to send us information about new publications as well as further bibliographic information or corrections in the future. The address for this is:


On SZD the bibliography can now be found under the Index menu or can be reached directly under this address.

If you have any suggestions or questions, please do not hesitate to contact the SZD team.

Thank you very much for your support!

Stefan Zweig’s manuscripts from the DLA Marbach online


A collaboration with the Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach (DLA) made it possible to add several integral items from Zweig’s posthumous papers to the records in STEFAN ZWEIG DIGITAL. The DLA holdings of Stefan Zweig’s works and personal documents can now be searched together with all previously existing records and are linked with the new DLA catalogue.

The DLA is home to numerous important original documents by the author. An example from Zweig’s early years is the manuscript of the novella Der Refractärdedicated to Carl Seelig: written in the summer of 1918, it was published by Insel Verlag in 1920 under the title Der Zwang. Extensive preliminary studies for his essay on Dostoevsky bear witness to Zweig’s decades-long involvement with the Russian writer. The DLA’s exceptionally complete collection of documents relating to the novel Ungeduld des Herzens (Beware of Pity) comprises all originals of the text, from Zweig’s earliest jottings in spiral-bound notebooks to printed galley proofs. Among Stefan Zweig’s personal documents stored at the DLA is an additional version of his farewell letter.

Apart from these new original materials from Marbach, numerous further personal documents from the various repositories in Salzburg and the Daniel A. Reed Library in Fredonia could also be recently integrated into STEFAN ZWEIG DIGITAL. Zweig’s diaries are now fully accessible, as are such documents as financial records, publishing contracts, legal documents, and the author’s lists of his own works and collections. The publishing contracts in particular illustrate the impressive breadth of contemporary translations in which Zweig’s works appeared throughout the globe.