Page 194 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 46

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uted to it. Most noteworthy were four articles on German anti-
Meanwhile, Zweig had published in 1911 his first novel,
Aufzeichnungen iiber eine Familie Klopfer
(Sketches About the
Klopfer Family), which aroused little interest. Wider recognition
came to him a year later with his second book,
Novellen um
(Tales About Claudia). The former volume had many
Jewish references based upon his own experiences while the
latter eschewed Jewish themes and revealed the influence o f
Sigmund Freud, in whom he came to see a surrogate father
and whose advice he later sought in critical moments.
Zweig’s first plays were devoted to Jewish themes. They were
Abigail und Nabal,
1913, and
Ritualmord in Ungarn
(Ritual Mur­
der in Hungary), 1914, later rewritten and renamed
Die Sendung
(The Mission o f Semael), 1918.
The former is a biblical drama based on I I Samuel 25. How­
ever, it does not follow the biblical depiction o f Nabal as a worth­
less character. It rather projects him as an aesthete and epicu­
rean, a patrician who enjoys the good things o f life, a feudal
lord who does not want to emulate Saul, the carefree shepherd
lad whose character darkened and deteriorated after being bur­
dened with a throne and forced to wade in blood. Abigail is
one o f Nabal’s prized acquisitions, a radiant personality, beau­
tiful, wise and eloquent, a forerunner o f the feminists who dare
to act independently in hours o f crisis.
Zweig’s second play takes place on two levels, in heaven and
on earth. Semael, the fallen angel, summoned from his abode
in hell by the voice o f God, remains defiant. He, who was once
God’s radiance and is now God’s shadow, fathoms the Lord ’s
loneliness that led Him to create the world and in it man as
the only creature with the unique characteristic o f free will.
Semael, forced to become invovled in the pain o f the terrestrial
planet, wants to put an end to its suffering by extinguishng
life. But God will not permit sweet rest to reign on earth before
the coming o f the Messiah at the end o f time. Meanwhile, God’s
people continues to suffer and to cry out for salvation.