— from "The Governess," in The Collected Stories of Stefan Zweig, by Stefan Zweig.
Do you remember crying yourself to sleep? Was it like that, puberty? Some inkling of the mysteries of love, a sexual awakening of a sort. The dark and menacing forest of fairy tales.
I rather think it must be like that. In a phenomenon like childbirth, the memory of the pain of it disintegrates over time as it yields to a greater thing. But Zweig and the intensity of my daughter's emotions these days (she is 12; the girls in the story, 12 and 13) convince me of its reality.
Zweig writes love well — the blooming of it, the tragedy of it, the awareness and secrecy of it. In one story ("A Summer Novella"), one character suggests to another that he is telling "a story like your German novelists, that's to say with lyrical fancies, broad, sentimental, tedious," and it is taken as a criticism. Indeed, I am seeing Zweig falter when he paints broader landscapes, whole villages in historical context. But when Zweig writes of the personal and intimate, I think he is "German" (without the tedium), and he is magnificent.
About the stories.