Page 155 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 49

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L IP T Z IN / R EM EM B ER ING S T E F A N ZW E IG
147
I experienced Zweig’s goodness and kindness in the encou r­
agement he gave me, an unknown beg inner in my twenties.
His first letter o f 1928 included the following sentences: “I have
read your book on the German social lyric with extraord inary
joy. It is com forting that at this time someone in America is
devoting himself to the lyrics which in ou r country are sliding
into forgetfulness. I find your presentation superb .” He then
calls my attention to elements o f the German social lyric that
preceded the n ineteenth century and that followed it, and he
ends with the hope that the book will be adequately known in
Germany. He himself will call the attention o f some o f his
friends to the book.
Two years later, I received a letter from Zweig, dated Ju n e
30, 1930, in which he refers to his own joy in reading an English
essay o f mine on Beer-Hofmann, since he himself is a great
adm ire r o f this poet and regrets that no p ro found study o f
him is available in German. He finds my essay a study that does
justice to this superb writer and there fo re o f distinction beyond
its purely artistic-critical value. After receiving this letter, I wrote
to Zweig that I was spending summer in Europe and would
be happy to meet him. He replied inviting me to Salzburg.
I came to his palatial home atop the Kapuzinerberg in early
September, af te r spending the preceding weeks in frequen t
meetings with Beer-Hofmann and less frequen t meetings with
Schnitzler. Zweig encouraged me to devote a major study to
them and, as a result o f his encouragement, my book on
Schnitzler was completed the following year and published in
1932. My essay on Beer-Hofmann was expanded into a book
and was published in 1936.
ZWE IG ’S CHARACTER
My conversation with Zweig about these writers gave me an
insight into his own personality. He spoke o f them as supremely
gifted. They had been gran ted literary talent o f the highest o r­
der. Talen t was grace o f God. It stemmed from inspiration,
which could be defined as divine breath breathed upon mortals.
As for himself, he had been gran ted bu t a “Ta len tchen .” He
did not haggle with God o r fate. However, he owed it to the
spirit or force that bestows these gifts to develop this literary
“Ta len tchen” to its maximum capacity. He, therefore , u n d e r­