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Description

In the twilight of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a young cavalry officer is invited to a dance at the home of a rich landowner.

There - with a small act of attempted charity - he commits a simple faux pas. But from this seemingly insignificant blunder comes a tale of catastrophe arising from kindness and of honour poisoned by self-regard.

Beware of Pity has all the intensity and the formidable sense of torment and of character of the very best of Zweig's work. Definitive translation by the award-winning Anthea Bell.

©1976 Atrium Press, 2011 Anthea Bell (P)2017 Ukemi Productions Ltd

Critiques

"Zweig’s fictional masterpiece." ( Guardian)

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Global

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Histoire

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  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Zaubermond
  • 21/03/2018

One of my favorite authors

Along with Alexander Lernet-Holenia and Márai Sàndor, Stefan Zweig is a jewel in the literary crown of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Beware of Pity is a period piece, an all too brief glimpse at a world forever lost.

It is a story which may seem quaint in our time now that honor, manners, and human decency are thin on the ground. But it fascinates for all that.

Zweig is often dismissed by the superficial reader as “sentimental.” Yes, he can be. He was, after all, a Viennese very much of his time.

But such a reading is shallow and simplistic. To dismiss Zweig with a supercilious sniff is to miss not only a visit to his evocative fictional world, but to his deep understanding of character and conflict.

I love his work all the more as I get older, and enjoy returning to his fictional Wien. He is an author with whom I never fail to lose myself utterly.

This reading is simply extraordinary. With so many clueless narrators slaughtering foreign languages with the most grotesque pronunciation, Boulton’s performance is glorious, even musical, as befits the author himself. I enjoyed every minute.

I hope someone will bring us another of Zweig’s extraordinary novels, The Post Office Girl.

6 sur 6 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Thomas
  • 07/08/2017

Masterpiece that is also extremely enjoyable

If you could sum up Beware of Pity in three words, what would they be?

Extremely enjoyable masterpiece

Have you listened to any of Nicholas Boulton’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

This is the first time I listened and his performance is excellent

Who was the most memorable character of Beware of Pity and why?

The doctor, because he gives off an amazing amount of philosophy, advice, background history, opinion and is a very colorful character in everyday life as well.

Any additional comments?

The reading of this book could not have done a better job, it was excellent. There are so many layers to this story and different references to pity. Besides pity to the girl Edit these is also pity elicited to the lieutenant. In addition, the father of Edit is in need of pity. There are substories within the story which are of high interest as well. The entire story is packed with meaning and submeaning. In addition the mood is set so well that the reader can feel the mood of that period in Vienna and the mindset of a soldier and the atmosphere of the times. Zweig is a master at conveying mood and bringing the reader into his world. The writing is very erudite and there is philosophy at every corner. On top of all that, the story comes off anything but dry and instead is immensely entertaining. This is a classic for all time.

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  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • W Perry Hall
  • 01/07/2018

Pick up a bee from kindness, and learn....


'Pick up a bee from kindness, and learn the limitations of kindness.'
Sufi Proverb

Upon finishing this, Stefan Zweig's only completed novel, after having already read his memoir, The World of Yesterday, I've found that this Austrian author was one of those singularly gifted observers of the human condition, that come along maybe only once a generation, able to regularly discern the profound in the mundane as if such a talent came like riding a bicycle.

Beware of Pity sated my love for an exploration of human emotions I've not yet encountered in a story but have experienced in the real world. First was pity, and the negative that can flow therefrom. Second is the feeling of having someone in love with you at a time in youth when you want nothing to do with her/him.

Though I'd of course encountered the emotion of pity in other novels, none had made it a central theme and covered it like this novel did.

As for the second--see Zweig's brilliant quote below--I look back with deep regret at how mean and callous I was to the girl, and think how I'd have handled it differently. I'd not seen this fleshed out in a story from the viewpoint of the *unloving beloved* before this one.

The surface moral of this novel is laid out by its title: pity, as an emotion, can result in disaster. The deeper message seems the old maxim, you cannot judge a book by its cover. Hofmiller may wear the medal of the Military Order of Maria Theresa--the highest military decoration Austria could offer, equivalent to the Victoria Cross in Great Britain and the U.S.'s Medal of Honor--but he is plagued by his knowledge that his badge of 'courage' actually came from a colossal act of cowardice.

The Austrian writer Stefan Zweig's popularity seems to be making a bit of a comeback, with the new publication of a number of his novellas and his memoir The World of Yesterday in which his writing shines. According to a number of sources, when this novel was published in 1939, Zweig was likely the most popular author in the world, for his short stories, novellas and biographies of famous people.

This was, again, the only novel he completed. He wrote it, as a Jewish refugee from Nazi persecution, in the U.S. (where he arrived in 1935) and then England (1938). He and his wife moved to Brazil in 1942 and shortly thereafter committed suicide together.

The story is set in Austria, mostly as it was on the brink of World War I. The tale is told though through a framing narrator (presumably Zweig) who meets the famously decorated cavalry lieutenant Anton Hofmiller at a social function. The narrator asks about the lieutenant's decoration as a hero of WW I, the Military Order of Maria Theresa, which Hofmiller disdains.

To explain why, he must take the narrator (and readers) back to the time he was invited to the castle of an immensely wealthy Hungarian named Lajos Kekesfalva. There, he asked the old man's crippled daughter to dance. A spoiled girl in her late teens, she throws a fit. Feeling pity for the girl, Hofmiller makes trips to see the Kekesfalvas nearly every day for an extended period. He is a man who gets nearly everything wrong: his gaffe that ultimately leads to awful consequences, believing Kekesfalva was a nobleman, and thinking the girl's doctor was incompetent, and leading the girl to believe she and he were engaged to be married only to deny it later in the evening, fearful of what his peers may think of him.



From BEWARE OF PITY, on the 'Torment' of Being "Loved Against Your Will

'a worse torment, perhaps, than feeling love and desire...is to be loved against your will, when you cannot defend yourself against the passion thrust upon you. It is worse to see someone beside herself, burning with the flames of desire, and stand by powerless, unable to find the strength to snatch her from the fire.

If you are unhappily in love yourself, you may sometimes be able to tame your passion because you are the author of your own unhappiness, not just its creature. If a lover can't control his passion then at least his suffering is his own fault. But there is nothing someone who is loved and does not love in return can do about it since it is beyond his own power to determine the extent and limits of that love and no willpower of his own can keep someone else from loving him.'

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  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Vikram
  • 25/01/2018

Recommended by Jeffrey Archer

In Oxford Union Discussion someone asked Jeffrey Archer which author he really admired and he mentioned this one.

If it's good enough for Mr.Archer it is fantastic for me.

I must comment on the Narrator. He added the passion and drama to the story, so much, that I almost came close to tears at times.

truly remarkable piece of writing. I am glad I found it.

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  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Montcalm
  • 25/08/2018

Well paced psychological and probing

Our hero under takes a long and convoluted process of self analysis in this wonderful and suspenseful psychological novel

Zweig writes with the intensity of Edgar Allan Poe’s first person narration, and with the psychological complexity in dealing with obsessed characters that dust day of ski possesses. Dostoevsky!

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • c
  • 05/08/2018

Excellent

Excellent story, involved me completely in the forgotten austro-hungarian empire, and Stephan Zweig's writing; especially his characterization and talent for setting, keeps your ears glued to your headphines. This is a great book about a world and a time that is gone with the wind.

  • Global
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Virginia
  • 14/04/2018

Can’t fault the writing, but long and boring

The writing is good, but to me, tedious. I suppose that it could be thought provoking. It is definitely, not a “feel good” book; I didn’t connect with any of the characters and it left me feeling empty.

Do consider the time frame in which it was written. The story is set in 1914 and published in 1939, falling between the World Wars; written by a Jew and published in German shortly before the start of World War II. Notably, in 1942, the author and his wife committed suicide in Brazil.

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  • Global
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    4 out of 5 stars
  • E. R. Øyre
  • 10/02/2018

You beautiful, nervous wreck!

Zweig's story is a beautiful one, yet one i cannot relate to.


Why then do I stil like this book?
It tells the story of a young officer in an austrian cavallery regiment located in Hungary, and his ever more complicated relations with the family " Von Kékesfalva", and subsequently his many and sometimes almost childish and desperate ways of trying to escape these same complications. I hate to spoil a good plot, so I will leave it at that.
I guess much of what denies this book greatness in my eyes, it really a sign of greatness in itself, as it is the frustration and anger I feel towards the story's main character that left me with compicated feelings about the work.
But even when I was frustrated with the plot of the story, other parts of the book would always hold me, and keep me from stopping to listen.
It was, among other things, the allure of the fascinating and mysterious culture and daily life of the Austro-Hungarian empire. I had first listened to The World of Yesterday by Zweig, and wanted to hear all I could about this part of european history that I knew so little of. Zweig truly brought me enjoyment through this work, and it is one that I am sure to revisit.

0 sur 1 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.