Catholics, Anglicans, and Puritans kIt seems there is an inexhaustible supply of writers who devote their literary powers to investigate the deepest recesses of the minds and souls of respectable married women cheating on their dear husbands taking on lovers or simply committing adultery The names are wellnown be it Anna Karenina or Madame Bovary or others so let s just say that the persona of an unfaithful woman provided and still provides perhaps the best vantage point from which to observe the follies of human society amid all its complacence and contradictions on full display and also because of that inscrutable inexpressible ineffable fascination with female sex which does not get replicated for its male counterpartEither by conditioning or by instinct to this modern day readers grab books that promise another story of transgressive women in the throes of passion and in the process become the cause of their own ruination and those related to them destroying the tender fabric from which social life is nitted and families are formedEven though I have read only two novels I think of Stefan Zweig as one of the finest writers to explore with great clat the deep psychological multiverse of his characters the gaping hole of the self the hidden iceberg of human emotions in a measured prose wherein the apparent complements the hidden and vice versa in a flowing stream of words that makes it hard for the reader to put the book down And so here too Zweig explores the inner workings of the mind of one Irene Wagner who takes on a lover without there being a pressing need without an emotional hole to fill Her perfectly happy marital life is not an impediment for her seeking extra happiness so if a reader is looking to make pop psychological connections about Irene s transgressions she ll have none Irene is bored and she wants to experience the adventure of the verboten As simple as that But then fear strikes soon and everything threatens to come crumbling down She isn t the angry raving intrepid couldn t care less heroine of the latter day literature a template that gets repeated in fictions with a feminist label she is an ordinary woman who fears for her secret to be out in the openZweig has a flair for theatrics and there s a good helping of the same in the story Aside from this he s employed I would say a cheap plot device to resolve the conflict in the end It s fine if it s done to solve some minor plot issues or to give credence to a character s thoughts and actions but in this case it is as though he s opted for an easy way out of Irene s conundrum and resolved the tension simply by an awe inspiring revelation I think it does not behoove a writer of Zweig s calibre to succumb to this weakness and this is my biggest criticism of the novellaAll in all a fine piece of writing full of drama excitement passion and a lot of fearAugust 16 Fear Eats the SoulLiterature is replete with great works of art dwelling on extra marital relationships As a single story perhaps Chekhov s Lady with the lapdog may be considered as the Taj Mahal for extramarital love We then have masterpieces like Tolstoy s Anna Karenina Flaubert s Madam Bovary and Fontaine s Effi Briest Zweig also deals with the same theme but he chooses to concentarte his entire drama on the angst or fear that clutches the doer when someone witnesses her secret rendezvous and later tries to blackmail herHardly had I read ten pages of the novel and I realized that Zweig bears striking comparison with another giant of Austrian Literature Arthur Schnitzler who handled psychological drama with fine finesse I was particularly reminded of the story The Dead are Silent which *IN A RECENT DISCUSSION I MENTIONED *a recent discussion I mentioned one of my favorite
Short Stories Zweig Wasstories Zweig was s junior by twenty years Both shared a liking for psychological themes and often used the bourgeoisie world of contemporary Vienna for their observations Both treat the theme of marital infidelity The basic situations in both the stories are similar In each story a married woman is placed in a situation which could lead to the discovery by her husband of her infidelityLeaving the apartment of her young lover Irene the wife of a wealthy lawyer is seized by a sudden sense of foreboding At the bottom of the stairs a woman is waiting a woman who will stalk blackmail and intimidate her into a state of suicidal despair Fear a 1920 novella of just 59 pages charts every fluctuation of its heroine s inner turmoil and ends with an ingenious twist There is always a plateau in married relationships The truth is that man is seldom contented with one relationship and many people now that they cannot make a contract for love to last lifetime He always carves for multiple relationships needn t be sexual alone to fulfil
*the gaps and to complement his inner needs There is often a thrill and excitement in a new relationship *gaps and to complement his inner needs There is often a thrill and excitement in a new relationship when the existing one is satisfying This is the case with Irene She was perfectly happy with a prosperous husband whose intellect was superior to hers two children contentedly and even lazily at ease in her comfortable calm middle class existence But a ind of languor in the air may arouse sensuality just as sultry or stormy weather can a sense of temperate happiness can be provocative than outright unhappiness and for many women their contentment itself proves disastrous than enduring dissatisfaction in a hopeless situation Satiety can be as much of an incitement as hunger and it was the very safety and security of Irene s existence that made her feel curious and ready for an adventure Irene confesses that she was attracted by the mysterious magnetism of adventure than a real urge when she started the affair with a young pianist she had met in a theater The issue is that even a new relationship too after a while becomes jejune. Finding her comfortable bourgeois existence as wife and mother predictable after eight years of marriage Irene Wagner brings a little excitement into it by starting an affair with a rising young pianist Her lover’s former mistre. And trips into torpor and Irene is aware of that fact Soon her lover made no difference at all to the comfortable mechanism of her existence he became as it were an additional source of temperate happiness like the idea of a third child or a motor car and her adventure soon seemed to her as ordinary as her lawful pleasuresIrene s problem is that though she loves adventure she isn t a woman trained to tackle adventure and the risk it entails This is her failure The moment her rendezvous with her lover is discovered by someone and that too by a former consort of her lover she runs into panic Though she initially sops her with money it is just the beginning of her entry into the realm of fear Irene first tries to cloister herself in her house for some days to escape a second encounter with the woman This is all the frustrating as she isn t used to spending all the time at home Her relationship with her children lacked care and affection and all the inmates become uncomfortable when she stays at home This further frets the matter and makes her aware of her deep alienation Whenever she tried to do something actively useful she came up against the interests of others who resisted her sudden attempts as an intrusion on their own customary rights There was no place left for her for lack of contact with it she herself had become a foreign body in the organism of her own household She did not now what to do with herself and her time and even her approaches to the children failed for they suspected that her sudden lively interest in them meant the introduction of a new Conversations with Nelson Algren kind of discipline and she felt herself blush in shame when during one of her attempts to look after them her seven year old son asked outright why she wasn t going for so many walks these daysSoon the witness woman turns out to be a stalker blackmailing Irene for and money and even dares one day to step into her house and she is forced to give away even her engagement ring in panic Irenenows that The ring itself was not her chief anxiety recovering it would mean only postponement not release from the fear of revelation Fear is a riveting tale of how Irene steadily submits to the terrors and humiliation of blackmail in order to preserve the innocence of the husband she adores but whom she systematically undercuts at home and in his career The devouring fear builds up to a crescendo and Stefan Zweig splendidly succeeds in its gestation Corrosive fear had eaten into her life like nitric acid separating its elements The weight of everything was suddenly different all values were reversed all relationships confused She felt as if unt There it is what happens when life evolves and becomes complacent much too complacent for a woman who marries young bears children and soon finds no true meaning in her everyday life She isn t dissatisfied no in fact she appreciates her life of complacent bourgeoisie of which she has no control If anything she craves desire the ind at its ripened stage She does not want to feel like someone s mother she wants to feel like someone s lover For a ind of languor in the air may arouse sensuality just as sultry or stormy weather can a sense of temperate happiness can be provocative than outright happiness Zweig s novellas are different in the way they exemplify the psychological Just as in Journey into the Past and La Confusion des sentiments the reader goes on an inward journey trying to decipher the main character s thoughts and illusions This is where Zweig never fails a reader his language and style always renders a story singular on the page even when the story is one that is familiar even in those brief moments when he the writer does not fully appreciate the whims of his female character She weighed up her life as a whole and felt that it was still a heavy weight but that if she could only hold on to it in the new intensified elevated frame of mind that these days of fear had shown her if she could begin it again from the beginning pure and sure and straightforward she was *ready to do so The overarching story introduced is comical I laughed at the notion of a mistress being by *to do so The overarching story introduced is comical I laughed at the of a mistress being confronted by lover s lover and it seemed like just the sort of drama to enjoy with a bag of warm buttery popcorn At its core however this is a story about change and actualization The lover takes a backseat to Irene s contemplations How interesting when title and theme intertwine and elucidates an offspring of desire and betrayal Irene s fear is the antagonist that makes her realize the value of life self and family her dark contemplation makes her recognize her deepest vulnerabilities and in the end it is desire which awakens her inner truth Coming Out of the Proto Feminist ClosetZweig was a close friend and confidant of Sigmund Freud And this little novella is clearly influenced by psycho analytic theory However it suggests to me at least a nod to the concepts of Carl Jung in its development and resolutionWho is this Frau Irene Wagner really Merely a bourgeois socialite a Mme Bovary who decides to engage in a little adultery out of boredom with her established matronly routine A hedonist pushing for that extra frisson of pleasure A neurotic housewife trying to escape the horrible fate of relationships without apparent meaning Or perhaps just a selfish bitch What fundamental motivation lies behind her behaviour If nothing else Frau Wagner is certainly what Carl Jung termed an Objective Introvert She lives mainly in her own head as indicated by the scarcity of dialogue throughout But almost nothing exists in that head of her own making She is defined by the views of the people she is with her set those others who have apparent regard for her and particularly by her husband She moulds herself to this society as she does to her family s expe. Ss begins blackmailing her threatening to give her secret away to her husband Irene is soon in the grip of agonizing fearWritten in the spring of 1913 and first published in 1920 this novella is one of Stefan Zweig’s most powerf. Ctations of her Even her children can command that she not deviate from their expectations for their care takingWoe to the Objective Introvert who intuitively can see the limits of their own psychology The only thing they can do to as it were broaden their perspective on life is to expose themselves to contradictory external demands If they are within a sedate stable society they purposely but unconsciously seek out passion and danger as a corrective environment Their life then of course becomes miserable not because of the passion and danger but because of the radical conflict in the demands upon their personalityFrau Wagner therefore becomes dissociated into two separate selves so that All that had passed and been forgotten was no longer her crime at all but that of another woman whom she could not herself understand and whose mind she could no longer even enter into In fact each aspect of her personality feels guilt about the other Whether she turns to her husband or her lover for solace she will be judged inadeuateLike all of us according to Jung Frau Wagner wants to have her psychological cake and eat it She wants what the Jungians call integration that is the acceptance of both parts of herself into a coherent whole She in fact wants to be found out and thus healed Deep inside her she longed for what she had hitherto been afraid of the lightning flash of redemption that would come when she was caught The only resolution to this fracture in the self appears to be annihilation of both aspects of her personality She considered all routes to death that she was familiar with weighing up legion possibilities of self destruction before she suddenly recollected with a Contested Reproduction: Genetic Technologies, Religion, and Public Debate kind of joyous terror that the doctor on account of her insomnia during a painful illness had prescribed morphine The internal contradiction is simply overwhelmingBut the solution isn t actually in her hands It is the environment that has to change to accommodate her This is precisely what happens While I find his resolution a bit too much deus ex machina and abrupt I am not entirely dissatisfied with Zweig s resolution of Frau Wagner s dilemma She has at least learned that it is not she who is always reuired to adapt to the demands of the world If you had the chance to pick any author to write your story or to write a character based on you whom would you pick I d pick Stefan Zweig for sure His ability to analyze the human psyche will never seize to impress me He is by far one of the best novelists who walked on earth I will make it a personal life goal to read everything that he has ever written i have become a fan of Stefan Zweig ZWEIGthis is my second dip in the zweig pool and i m pretty much sold i do wish someone would publish a volume of his collected works so i don t have toeep buying these tiny albeit beautiful pushkin press editions they can be read in the time it takes to eat a box of crackers and then you are left with no crackers and no book and that is a heavy souled feelingya now what is also a heavy souled feeling the guilt of infidelity a seamless transition into the book by ms brissette 2 points bored by a perfect life into an eually boring affair and then blackmailed by the ex lover of her current lover irene experiences fear seamless name drop of title 4 points what follows is 100 pages of slow psychological breakdown as she pays off her blackmailer and fears exposure overcome by angst mention of the german title 5 points she contemplates suicide naturally it is zweig after all and homicide as she tries to find a way out of the hole she has dug herself into there *IS THE POKING AT THE *the usual poking at the and ending that i half expected but it was completely satisfying zweig does character so well all the false starts and crazy notions and deliberations of this woman are crystallized into impressive and taut prose that makes the story of a thriller than you would expect considering that it is mostly hand wringing consciousness of her burning secret name drop of another zweig book 5 points and not the big explosions of a modern thriller i have earned many points here tonightmy work is donego read some zweigcome to my blog I felt the inner turmoil of Irene the married bourgeois wife and mother of two who was being blackmailed by her lover s former mistress I couldn t help but read this novella through a feminist lens Irene has similar feelings of discontentment to a lot of the literary heroines who lived before our emancipated times and felt trapped in their lives Irene certainly feels trapped in her marriage and this leads her to having an affair with a young talented pianist Irene has everything society deems she could possibly want yet she still feels suppressed In fact she rues the fact that she is living in the lap of luxury and wants for nothing A sense of temperate happiness can be provocative than outright unhappinessSatiety can be as much of an incitement as hunger A uick read Highly recommended Zweig Zweig and my dear Zweig All his books have this magnetic captivating nature If a non Zweig reader stumbles upon one of his works and wants to leaf through to check the structure of his writing heshe would probably decide that it s a boring and hyper energy consuming book with no chapters and no separating parts with its long paragraphs and minimum dialog among the characters But the moment you set your eyes on his magical writing you are drawn into his world and you just eep reading and reading and reading without being able or dare to take y Finished it in a few hours absolutely impossible to put down and what an ending Zweig is a master at describing the inner emotions of his characters without becoming melodramatic I really didn t expect the ending and I m usually pretty good at guessing Excellent novella. Ul studies of a woman’s mind and emotionsLa Paura 1954 the Roberto Rossellini film based on the Stefan Zweig novel Fear was the last of the extraordinary features in which Rossellini directed Ingrid Bergman who was then his wife.