Freud and the Iceberg Metaphor

The recent “Google doodle” celebrating the 160th anniversary of Sigmund Freud’s birth presents a welcome opportunity to highlight not the influence Freud exerted on Stefan Zweig, as seen in such works as Der Amokläufer (Amok, 1922) and Schachnovelle (The Royal Game, 1942), but the effect Zweig himself may have had on the legacy of psychoanalysis.

The iceberg metaphor attributed to this day to Freud as his visual explanation of the unconscious mind may well be more accurately ascribed to his longtime friend and correspondent Stefan Zweig. As pointed out by Fredonia Professor of English Birger Vanwesenbeeck in his essay, “A Stefan Zweig Revival?”, the symbol of the iceberg, which nowhere appears in Freud’s own writings, may well have stuck to psychoanalysis as a result of Zweig who employs it in his book on Freud, Die Heilung durch den Geist (Mental Healers, 1931).¹

In this work, Zweig describes “the destructive possibilities of an iceberg only upon the ground of what is visible above the surface of the water, whereas nine-tenths of the colossus lie beneath the waves” in reference to the unconscious depths and power of the human mind.² Vanwesenbeeck’s study underscores both the collaborative respect and influence both individuals had on one another, as well as the impact that Zweig may well have exerted on one of the most enduring tropes of modern-day psychology.

From the Zweig Collection at Fredonia

The first page of Worte am Sarge Sigmund Freuds, Zweig’s eulogy to Freud, given in London on 26 September 1939.

Freud eulogy001

The Stefan Zweig Collection, H206
Daniel A. Reed Library Archives & Special Collections
State University of New York at Fredonia

References

  1. Birger Vanwesenbeeck, “A Stefan Zweig Revival?” in Stefan Zweig and World Literature: Twenty-First-Century Perspectives, ed. Birger Vanwesenbeeck and Mark H. Gelber (Rochester, New York: Camden House, 2014), 16.
  2. Stefan Zweig, Mental Healers: Franz Anton Mesmer, Mary Baker Eddy, Sigmund Freud, trans. Eden and Cedar Paul (New York: Frederick Ungar, 1962), 292.
The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the page author(s).  The contents of this page have not been reviewed or approved by the State University of New York at Fredonia.
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“Messages from a Lost World” : new collection of Zweig essays reviewed in The Nation

Translated by Will Stone, Pushkin Press, 2016

Translated by Will Stone, Pushkin Press, 2016

A new collection of essays by Stefan Zweig, Messages from a Lost World (trans. Will Stone, Pushkin Press, 2016), allows readers considerable insight into Zweig’s persistent dedication to the notion of borderless existence, specifically within the countries of the European Union. Zweig penned these writings during a period starting around the outbreak of World War I and extending to a year before his death in 1942. They touch on his vision of European unity (a constant theme during his life), the crumbling of his cherished Viennese culture as fascism gained an ever greater hold, and the conflicted sentiments which attend a precipitate and necessary flight from one’s homeland. As Gavin Jacobson, writer and book critic for The Nation, explains in his recent review of the work, “Zweig’s transnational visions in Messages are a product of his displacement, and a sharp reminder to citizens about the agony of being stateless in the present age of the refugee.” Jacobson’s article traces with deft deliberation the correlation between Zweig’s reinvented Europe and the political climate of today’s EU which may have yet to endure its strongest test of the Schengen Agreement, underscoring Zweig’s prescience in these matters.

Stefan Zweig (standing) with his brother, Alfred, Vienna, ca. 1898. The Stefan Zweig Collection, Daniel A. Reed Library Archives & Special Collections, State University of New York at Fredonia.

Some of the writings in Messages have never before been published, and none of them have appeared in English before now – further testament to Pushkin’s dedication to the expansion of Zweig readership. The Archives & Special Collections at Fredonia holds typescripts and galley proofs for several of the pieces in this volume, including The Sleepless World (Die schlaflose Welt, 1914), The Vienna of Yesterday (Das Wien von gestern, 1940), The Unification of Europe (Einigung Europas, 1934), and History as Poetess (Die Geschichte als Dichterin, 1931), all of which offer researchers a unique opportunity to better understand Zweig’s creative process. Individuals wishing to consult the Stefan Zweig Collection are encouraged to contact the Coordinator of Archives & Special Collections, Kim Taylor.

 

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New English Translation of Weidermann Work: Ostende: 1936, Sommer der Freundschaft

A newly published English translation of the work Ostende: 1936, Sommer der Freundschaft (2014) by author and literary reporter for Der Spiegel, Volker Weidermann, centers on the relationship between Zweig and Austrian novelist Joseph Roth and their extensive circle of emigrant friends and acquaintances during the summer of 1936 in the Belgian seaside resort of Ostend.

Stefan Zweig and Josef Roth in Ostende, Belgium. Photography. 1936. (Photo by Imagno/Getty Images)

Currently enjoying heightened attention from literary critics both here in the United States and abroad, Ostend: Stefan Zweig, Joseph Roth, and the summer before the dark (Pantheon Books, 2016) is reviewed here by New York Times book critic Jennifer Senior as “light on its feet, a reverie in a way; when it’s over, you’ll half wonder if you’ve dreamed it … [Weidermann] writes the book as a novel, almost, recreating scenes and channeling characters’ thoughts.” A slightly more extensive review by Tara Isabella Burton for the New Republic can be found here.

Joseph Roth died in Paris in 1939 just before the outbreak of the Second World War, a fact noted by Zweig in his last letter to Friderike dated 22 February 1942: “… remember the good Josef Roth and Rieger, how glad I always was for them, that they had not to go through those ordeals.” Whereas Roth died by natural causes (attributed to his alcoholism), Zweig chose to quietly take leave by his own volition. Ostend recounts an effort, albeit an ultimately doomed one, to reclaim a shred of the familiar and a life as the two friends would have known it prior to the rise of fascism within 20th-century Europe.

Listen to English actor Peter Firth read an abridged version of Ostend on BBC Radio 4.

 

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Faculty Workshop Focuses on Interdisciplinary Reach of Stefan Zweig Collection at Fredonia

As part of Fredonia’s spring 2016 Professional Development Day, held on February 5, 2016, Associate Professor of English Dr. Birger Vanwesenbeeck held the inventively titled session “Who’s Afraid of Stefan Zweig? : Stimulating Undergraduate Research Across the Disciplines” in the Williams Center on Fredonia’s campus. The workshop was attended by fifteen faculty members from the departments of Music, English, Political Science, Curriculum & Instruction, World Languages, History and staff from Reed Library and the Archives & Special Collections.

BirgerVanwesenbeeck

Dr. Birger Vanwesenbeeck, Associate Professor of English at Fredonia

Intended to promote the use of primary source materials from the Stefan Zweig Collection in the Archives & Special Collections at Reed Library to support curricular needs, Dr. Vanwesenbeeck used high-resolution, laminated printouts of select items from the collection that touched upon a variety of themes, including the first page of the handwritten eulogy Zweig composed for Sigmund Freud’s funeral in London (Worte am Sarge Sigmund Freuds, 26 September 1939); the Bescheid über die Judenvermögensabgabe (a special levy imposed by the Nazis upon Jewish assets) sent to Zweig on 20 February 1939; a letter to Zweig from a 30-year-old Erich Maria Remarque expressing his gratitude to Zweig for encouraging him during the creative and existential crisis Remarque had experienced several years earlier; and a telegram sent by Richard Strauss to Stefan Zweig relating the successful Dresden Staatsoper premier of Strauss’ opera, Die schweigsame Frau, for which Zweig had written the libretto – it would be banned by the Nazis after a mere four performances.

Although most of the documents in the collection are written in Zweig’s native tongue, German, Dr. Vanwesenbeeck encouraged attendees, working in small groups, to push the limits of their interpretive skills by concentrating on key words, phrases, names and dates to uncover a document’s hidden meaning. Personal devices (e.g., smartphones, tablets) enabled rudimentary, though surprisingly effective, translation and assisted in providing historical context for the materials, all of which was meant to illustrate the level of engagement that students, particularly those without notable language skills, could establish of their own accord.

Dr. Vanwesenbeeck will continue his use of the Zweig Collection throughout the remainder of his spring 2016 course titled “European Literary Landmarks” (ENGL 300). Fredonia faculty interested in scheduling class visits to use the Zweig Collection, or for their own research, are encouraged to contact the Coordinator of Archives & Special Collections, Kim Taylor.

 

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New Stage Adaptation from Laurent Seksik

French novelist Laurent Seksik, who delivered the 3rd Biennial Zweig Lecture at Fredonia in Fall 2014, has completed a stage adaptation of Zweig’s autobiography Die Welt von Gestern (1941; translated into English as The World of Yesterday, 1943) to be premiered at the Théâtre des Mathurins in Paris on March 17, 2016.

Laurent Seksik in Paris on September 2, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / JOEL SAGET)

Seksik is the author of the internationally bestselling novel Les derniers jours de Stefan Zweig (2010; translated into English as The Last Days, 2013), which was adapted into both a theatre play and a graphic novel. A staged reading of the theatre play, directed by Fredonia Theatre and Dance faculty member Jessica Hillman and translated by English faculty member Birger Vanwesenbeeck, was performed on the Fredonia campus in October 2014.

 

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Zweig’s Last Letter to Friderike

Letter from Stefan Zweig to Friderike Zweig, 22 February 1942
The Stefan Zweig Collection, Daniel A. Reed Library Archives & Special Collections, State University of New York at Fredonia

Welcome to the inaugural post for the Stefan Zweig Collection at Fredonia. Launched on the eve of the 74th anniversary of Zweig’s death, the purpose of this blog is to encourage the scholarship and appreciation of Stefan Zweig by highlighting certain materials from the Zweig Collection at Fredonia, promoting other manuscript collections of Zweig materials around the world, and informing readers about Zweig-related conferences, symposia, exhibits and other events, both on the campus of Fredonia and at institutions worldwide.

The above image from the Stefan Zweig Collection at Fredonia (Stefan and Friderike Zweig Correspondence, Box 23, folder “1942”) is the last known letter from Zweig to his first wife, Friderike, with whom he continued to correspond many years after their divorce. One of thousands of manuscript materials belonging to the Zweig Collection at Fredonia, the letter was composed in English (to avoid war-time censorship) from Zweig’s home in Petrópolis, Brazil one day before he was found dead alongside the body of his then spouse, Lotte, in a double-suicide. In this letter Zweig articulates the great sense of despair caused by exile from his native Austria and the loss of so many loved ones on the European continent as a result of the war: “ … I suffered so much that I could not concentrate any more … I send you these lines in the last hours, you cannot imagine how glad I feel since I have taken the decision.”

Zweig and Lotte would be discovered on 23 February 1942 by their housemaid who became concerned when the couple had not emerged from their bedroom by the middle of the afternoon.¹ A suicide note, Declaração, penned by Zweig on 22 February 1942, is housed at the National Library of Israel as part of the NLI’s Stefan Zweig Collection.

Though lacking English subtitles, a documentary produced by TV Brazil, Paraíso Utópico, provides a visually engaging and respectful illustration of Zweig’s short-lived, though ultimately profound, effect on and relationship to the country of Brazil and offers a glimpse into the world that comprised Zweig’s final months. The film takes inspiration from Zweig’s Brasilien, ein Land der Zukunft (1941) and includes multiple segments with noted Brazilian journalist Alberto Dines, author of Morte no paraíso (1981), a biography of Zweig (which later served as motivation for the 2002 film Lost Zweig directed by Sylvio Back). Dines also participated in the first Stefan Zweig Symposium held on the campus of Fredonia in 1981. Even viewers lacking in Portuguese language skills will be able to appreciate the reverence with which Zweig, to this day, is regarded by the intelligentsia of Brazilian society, as well as have the opportunity to view fascinating images of Zweig and his wife, Lotte, both while they were alive and, somewhat grotesquely, on their mutual death bed.

A briefer cinematic tribute to Zweig, Casa Stefan Zweig, also features Dines and provides an historical account of the house originally occupied by Zweig and his wife in Petrópolis until their deaths. Casa Stefan Zweig is now a museum devoted to Zweig’s memory and that of countless other exiles who made their homes in Brazil and left substantial marks on its culture and society. This short film is overdubbed in English.

References

  1. Oliver Matuschek, Three lives: a biography of Stefan Zweig, trans. Allan Blunden (London: Pushkin Press, 2011), 352-353.

 

The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the page author(s).  The contents of this page have not been reviewed or approved by the State University of New York at Fredonia.
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