Monday, February 6

Stefan Zweig, the unpublished poet


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In the spring of 1901, when he was not yet twenty years old, Stefan Zweig published the collection of poems
‘Silver strings’ (Silberne Saiten)
. Until then, he had written in prestigious press and magazines, but that book marked his landing in literature, the first tear. That was followed by two more volumes of poetry, which Zweig sought to remove and hide from his bibliography. More than a hundred years after being published by Schuster und Loeffler, the Fórcola label publishes for the first time those verses, previously unpublished in Spanish, in a bilingual edition translated by Richard Gross.

In the prologue that accompanies the book, César Antonio Molina describes how in this youthful poetry, built with symbolist rubble, the features of

personality of the young writer, his character, his uncertainties in life and his personal search for beauty. “Look, the night has strung silver ropes in the fields absorbed in dreams!”, Zweig writes in a young man in ‘Nocturno’. The pages of
‘Silver strings’
The great themes that the Austrian will develop in his work appear: love, loneliness, nostalgia, melancholy, sadness due to the fall of ideals and even the frustration of the poet and the traveling writer at the impossibility of obtaining their origins. In addition to the implicit esthete facet – the poems belong to the years in which Zweig is fascinated by the poetry of Émile Verhaeren and Rainer Maria Rilke – it will be during this stage that he elaborates his first ideas and uncertainties about Judaism and Zionism .

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Zionism

The poems collected in ‘Cuerdas de plata’ caught the attention of the literary critic Theodor Herzl, one of the promoters of Zionism, and who had already published in ‘Die Welt’ – the official organ of the World Zionist Organization – the poems of Adolf Donath, a self-proclaimed “aesthetic Zionist” to whom Zweig dedicates some of the poems grouped under the heading ‘In the old gardens’. The European attitude of the young Zweig, for whom man was above race or nation, then accused a vague idea of ​​Judaism, which runs through the book like an undercurrent in poems such as ‘Fulfillment’ or ‘Last Chains’. These verses glimpse a matter that Zweig will answer in ‘Jeremiah’, a play that, according to Cesar Antonio Molina, is understood as “a kind of manifesto in favor of moral, universal, anti-nationalist and anti-Zionist Judaism.”

Unpublished

How is it possible that these books have not been translated until now? , the editor Javier Fórcola wondered while rereading ‘The world of yesterday’. «In his memoirs, Stefan Zweig writes down how he gave up the idea of ​​reissuing them over time. They gave him a certain prestige, because the poems were received by the critics with interest, as his biographers point out, but he decided to make his way in another way: it will be with biographies, essays and novels that he will achieve international fame “, explains the editor. Despite the fact that Zweig’s work had been published in Spanish by the Juventud publishing house during the 1940s and 1950s and that Acantilado has recovered his books and updated the translations, the Zweig poet’s facet has gone unnoticed by Spanish publishers.

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“Silence does not correspond so much to oblivion, as to ignorance of these early works.” To publish ‘Cuerdas de plata’, Fórcola chose the Singladuras collection, which includes titles as varied as Napoleon Bonaparte’s testament to very short volumes on melancholy, books and music. “My intention is to recover singular, significant books, with a relevant weight regardless of genre and those that history has put aside.” Stefan Zweig published two other collections of poems, which the Fórcola label wants to recover, also bilingual editions and with the translation of Richard Gross, who on this occasion tries to respect the modernist air and refined language of Austrian.

Good poet?

If Zweig himself resisted continuing to write poetry and did not want to reissue what was already published, it is reasonable to think that he would not be very happy with his style. At least judging from the flow of his work, it is evident that in prose he was much more comfortable than in verse, as his novels and diaries show. The writer César Antonio Molina rescues in the prologue some thematic features that are more than formal. For him ‘Cuerdas de plata’ is the place where the nuances and textures of a humanist, Europeanist and cosmopolitan thought can be identified, as well as the sensitivity that underpins all of Zweig’s work.

«He is, for me, a good poet, in the sense that a great poet is made throughout life. Zweig is a poet of existence, who talks about essential matters: life, death, destiny. He is always concerned with the affairs of destiny and that is where these poems connect with the rest of his literature. If we read his diaries and many of his books, we see that poetry is embedded in them, in many narratives and stories. Zweig is a genius and must be studied from all perspectives and his poems are important and significant.

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