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Au soir de sa vie, un vieux professeur se souvient de l'aventure qui, plus que les honneurs et la réussite de sa carrière, a marqué sa vie. A dix-neuf ans, il a été fasciné par la personnalité d'un de ses professeurs ; l'admiration et la recherche inconsciente d'un Père font alors naître en lui un sentiment mêlé d'idolâtrie, de soumission et d'un amour presque morbide. Fre Au soir de sa vie, un vieux professeur se souvient de l'aventure qui, plus que les honneurs et la réussite de sa carrière, a marqué sa vie. A dix-neuf ans, il a été fasciné par la personnalité d'un de ses professeurs ; l'admiration et la recherche inconsciente d'un Père font alors naître en lui un sentiment mêlé d'idolâtrie, de soumission et d'un amour presque morbide. Freud a salué la finesse et la vérité avec laquelle l'auteur d'Amok et du Joueur d'échecs restituait le trouble d'une passion et le malaise qu'elle engendre chez celui qui en est l'objet. Paru en 1926, ce récit bref et profond connut un succès fulgurant, en raison de la nouveauté audacieuse du sujet. Il demeure assurément l'un des chefs-d'œuvre du grand écrivain autrichien.


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Au soir de sa vie, un vieux professeur se souvient de l'aventure qui, plus que les honneurs et la réussite de sa carrière, a marqué sa vie. A dix-neuf ans, il a été fasciné par la personnalité d'un de ses professeurs ; l'admiration et la recherche inconsciente d'un Père font alors naître en lui un sentiment mêlé d'idolâtrie, de soumission et d'un amour presque morbide. Fre Au soir de sa vie, un vieux professeur se souvient de l'aventure qui, plus que les honneurs et la réussite de sa carrière, a marqué sa vie. A dix-neuf ans, il a été fasciné par la personnalité d'un de ses professeurs ; l'admiration et la recherche inconsciente d'un Père font alors naître en lui un sentiment mêlé d'idolâtrie, de soumission et d'un amour presque morbide. Freud a salué la finesse et la vérité avec laquelle l'auteur d'Amok et du Joueur d'échecs restituait le trouble d'une passion et le malaise qu'elle engendre chez celui qui en est l'objet. Paru en 1926, ce récit bref et profond connut un succès fulgurant, en raison de la nouveauté audacieuse du sujet. Il demeure assurément l'un des chefs-d'œuvre du grand écrivain autrichien.

30 review for La Confusion des sentiments

  1. 5 out of 5

    Florencia

    ...music has rests as well as notes. (19) Master of the novella. Connoisseur of the human soul. His prose tears down the walls that separate the mind from the outside world. It finds its way towards the essence of being. And you will no longer inhabit your own body. You become one of his characters, for better or for worse. A young man was wasting his life until he had a conversation with his father that enlightened his path. That is how he ended up assisting to a talk with a brilliant professor ...music has rests as well as notes. (19) Master of the novella. Connoisseur of the human soul. His prose tears down the walls that separate the mind from the outside world. It finds its way towards the essence of being. And you will no longer inhabit your own body. You become one of his characters, for better or for worse. A young man was wasting his life until he had a conversation with his father that enlightened his path. That is how he ended up assisting to a talk with a brilliant professor whose magnetic lecture bewitched his students with a fluent river of wisdom. Several lines are dedicated to convey that this professor is an excellent speaker, both concerning content and way of transmitting it. However, other reflections were shining among so many praises. These unruly and passionate hearts rage like lions, each trying to outdo the others in wild exuberance; all is permitted, all is allowed on stage: incest, murder, evildoing, crimes, the boundless tumult of human nature indulges in a heated orgy; as the hungry beasts once emerged from their cages, so do the inebriated passions now race into the wooden-walled arena, roaring and dangerous. It is a single outburst exploding like a petard, and it lasts for fifty years: a rush of blood, an ejaculation, a uniquely wild phenomenon prowling the world, seizing on it as its prey—in this orgy of power you can hardly hear individual voices or make out individual figures. Each strikes sparks off his neighbour, they learn and they steal from each other, they strive to outdo one another, to surpass each other’s achievement, yet they are all only intellectual gladiators in the same festive games, slaves unchained and urged on by the genius of the hour. …living respectable lives, ruffians, whore-masters, actors, swindlers, but poets, poets, poets every one. (18) A beautiful statement about writers and their issues. This story involves the relationship that develops between a married professor, a "man who moved from hot to cold like a bright flash of lightning" (31), and a college student. When a person meets another, certain feelings start to wake. Likability, love, respect, indifference, hatred. Everything is allowed. The confusion begins when you can't really distinguish those feelings. A remarkable person often makes us feel admiration. A clever conversation reinforces the growing feeling of comfort. Looks can be in second place; intelligence and humor can conquer almost everything. Then, and only then, we start pondering about what we are actually experiencing. Is it love? Is love the sum of all those things? These reflections restlessly unleash a confusion of sentiments. What clearly draws the enigmatic line between love and admiration, I wouldn't know. On one hand, we have an intense amount of feelings crying for attention and solutions. On the other hand, we have silence. Coldness. Absence. Not that any tension or sense that they were at odds made itself felt in word or gesture: on the contrary, it was the absence of any such thing, the lack of any tension at all between them that enveloped them both so strangely and made their relationship opaque, a heavy silence of the feelings... (29) There is a volcano of feelings waiting to erupt even in the quietest human being of all. You could hear the bustle of a colorful crowd just by taking a quick peek. A fervent desire of sharing everything you have inside. The inability to do so because of some unknown obstacle with the strength to hold you back. The fear of exposing too much, perhaps. The art of isolation. Until you break. Ah, secret place of my memories, where the word became magical to me and I knew the intoxication and enchantment of the intellect as nowhere else... (54) This book covers all grounds. Zweig's prose is as clear, insightful and magnificent as ever. The act of transforming emotions into words without losing intensity is something that this writer can accomplish effortlessly. There is music in his words. There is art. Uncertainties. Melancholy. And passion. Above all. Not just with application, my boy, but above all with passion. If you do not feel impassioned you’ll be a schoolmaster at best—one must approach these things from within and always, always with passion. (24) Passion for your work. But also the purest form of passion, the one that has to be tamed to be acceptable for others, until you realize... that is not living. Having this in mind, I can stop playing chess now. June 22, 14 * Also on my blog. Note: I also read this edition Confusión de sentimientos. I prefer the English translation.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    You should begin by hearing the language in the mouths of the poets who create and perfect it, you must have felt poetry warm and alive in your hearts before we start anatomizing it. How similar are we to those we teach, to those from whom we learn? This is the exploration. For when we reflect upon our lives, which one of our influencers will we find we've become? And at some point in our youthful, confused naiveté, what could we have overlooked? And so I, who have spent a lifetime depicting hu You should begin by hearing the language in the mouths of the poets who create and perfect it, you must have felt poetry warm and alive in your hearts before we start anatomizing it. How similar are we to those we teach, to those from whom we learn? This is the exploration. For when we reflect upon our lives, which one of our influencers will we find we've become? And at some point in our youthful, confused naiveté, what could we have overlooked? And so I, who have spent a lifetime depicting human beings in the light of their work, portraying the intrinsic intellectual structure of their worlds, was made aware again from my own experience of the impenetrability in every human life of the true core of its being, the malleable cell from which all growth proceeds. There are some writers who pull off lofty styled prose without seeming trite. Zweig is such a writer. His elevated sentences reach for heights of consciousness and discovery with such jolting sprawl that his character and reader become one journeying individual. In this world of either short stories or novels, it is not too often the novella form reaches such perfection that its label becomes dispensable and all I see are superbly formed black words across fewer white pages. Zweig's novella exudes reflective intellectualism, even more so than his Journey into the Past, although I still think Journey could be my favorite. Confusion is an exemplification of a young scholar's whim, a culmination of his or her affinity for the eloquence of spoken word. In some ways it reminded me of my collegiate self, a student who basked in the words of my most brilliant professors, basked in the idea of a world that reached into and stretched out of books: what Latin scholars call a raptus, when one is taken right out of oneself. Still, I'm still not sure one would relish story as one would in Stoner, for example. And if one did not like the narrative voice in Stoner, one wouldn't care for the one in this book either. For one thing, Roland, the narrator, remembers his reclusive professor-mentor from a removed distance. Sure, Roland's passions for his studies are vibrantly portrayed; his aloof and scholastic teacher imagined through imagery; and his confusion surrounding his professor and his professor's wife elucidated. Yet the narrative voice is flat. Perhaps intentionally. Although the suspenseful plot is structured and arced in a way that creates much page-turning dazzle, it is still flawed; Flawed in its allusion to what the reader already senses and to what, therefore, is no surprise later. However, where voice or suspense falters, style soars. By style I don't mean prose style alone, but a structure that parallels prose; modern, yet timeless art that illumines the ebb of the Shakespearean romance and the flow of passion, while also calibrating philosophical thought. Here, confusion becomes sexual, intellectual, philosophical, and allegorical. And this is what Zweig does cleverly: create a deceptively simple, yet nuanced story. We live through myriads of seconds, yet it is always one, just one, that casts our entire inner world into turmoil…

  3. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    ‪Just finished this little dark gem of a novella about forbidden love and suppressed sexuality. Starts slowly (and a bit wordy) but builds into a moving tale of torturous emotions. This is why I wish they had half stars as really it’s a 3.5 novella. As after a gently paced beginning, which took a little while to get into, it really grips you and forms one of the most vivid depictions of a mans struggle with his sexuality I’ve read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nicole~

    We live through myriads of seconds, yet it is always one, just one, that casts our entire inner world into turmoil. Roland, a well respected, older professor who holds an honored place in the ivory towers of academia, recalls his life as a young student, and his relationship to his own professor and mentor at that time-- a man whom he admired, obsessed over and wanted to emulate. He replays memories of his situation as a university student, having had a horrific grievance with his father, renting We live through myriads of seconds, yet it is always one, just one, that casts our entire inner world into turmoil. Roland, a well respected, older professor who holds an honored place in the ivory towers of academia, recalls his life as a young student, and his relationship to his own professor and mentor at that time-- a man whom he admired, obsessed over and wanted to emulate. He replays memories of his situation as a university student, having had a horrific grievance with his father, renting a room in his teacher's home and becoming his amanuensis. Roland discovers that being in such close proximity to his professor and his wife, deeply checked secrets become increasingly difficult to suppress. His confusion is borne from the innocence of a youth whose direction is often ambiguous in the face of inexperience: too naive to comprehend a sideways glance; too unsophisticated to decipher a muffled conversation or to interpret the slightest change of demeanor. This living arrangement becomes one of anxiety, mixed emotions, tension, and misunderstanding. What place had I reached? I had sensed the secrets quite close, its hot breath already on my face, and now it had retreated again, but its shadow, its silent, opaque shadow still murmured in the air, I felt it as a dangerous presence in the house.. While his wife manages the game of secrets with a deft hand, Roland's mentor lives in constant fear of his secret being revealed, especially in a society that keeps the 'perpetrator's' name on a 'certain list'. It isn't right, not a young student and his teacher, do you understand? One must keep one's distance... Such restrained passions do not fit comfortably in the conventional form of the period, and must be kept hushed up, closeted, hidden behind closed doors. The relationships between the three feverishly entangle into a discombobulated love triangle. It will soon be cleared up because I'm not letting him play with you and confuse you like that anymore. There must be an end to all this. He must finally learn to control himself. You're too good for his dangerous games. Zweig takes the reader into a turbulence of high-strung emotions, as crossed messages become haphazardly layered one on top the other. He portrays Roland's fiery confusion as a pathogen, taking over the thoughts of one person who spreads its virulent toxins to the other. Nothing however is more arousing and intriguing to a young man than a teasing set of vague suspicions; the imagination usually wandering idly finds its quarry suddenly revealed to it, and is immediately agog with the newly discovered pleasure of the chase. Confusion's plot isn't a contemporary one - outlooks have changed since the period this story was set; and by today's standards, it is basically nothing to be shocked by. For that reason, it wouldn't completely excite the reader. However, it is another wonderful gem from Zweig's observations into human affects and relationships. It may be a bit disorienting and frenzied, but that was the whole purpose. ************ Here's a little reggae ditty: We all got something to hide, We're all livin' a lie... What goes on behind closed doors? Nobody knows, nobody knows for sure by Lionize - http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qZrMl7ah-w0 First read 2012 Re-read April 18th, 2014

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lee Klein

    Said something like oh man that's awesome when I finished (owing more to the final half-page chapter than the entire novella) but still I'll rate it 4.25 stars rounded down since it sometimes felt melodramatic, sensationalist, hysterical -- a review on here calls Zweig a watered-down Proust or Stendhal but that doesn't hold water for me since the passionate tilt-a-whirl overwrought feints and parries in the French biggies are pronounced and dramatized ad nauseum whereas here they're glossed over Said something like oh man that's awesome when I finished (owing more to the final half-page chapter than the entire novella) but still I'll rate it 4.25 stars rounded down since it sometimes felt melodramatic, sensationalist, hysterical -- a review on here calls Zweig a watered-down Proust or Stendhal but that doesn't hold water for me since the passionate tilt-a-whirl overwrought feints and parries in the French biggies are pronounced and dramatized ad nauseum whereas here they're glossed over by Zwieg's essayistic instinct, his graceful, flowing summary. I can't think of another novella from 1927 in which the narrator admits that he's essentially in love with the mind of a male teacher -- and that toward the end so explicitly treats of early 1900s gay life in Berlin, particularly derision, oppression, blackmail, unsavory clandestine spasms in alleys etc. The love triangle among wife of professor, charismatic professor, and hot young passionate student narrator isn't fleshed out enough? Swimming scenes seemed muted, even when a slip of tit made its PG-13 appearance. But the prose soars when it's totally platonic and the professor dictates his long repressed work on Shakespeare to the narrator. Zweig, becoming a great favorite, excels when describing ecstatic intellectual paroxysms. But he's becoming a favorite more so for perfectly phrased insight. Although in many ways unlike Musil's The Confusions of Young Törless, which predates this by ~21 years, I think it's safe to associate them thanks to the shared academic setting, "Confusion" in the title, pre-Nazi era, and man-on-man action/passion.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jan-Maat

    No confusion for me. This was simply impressively bloodless, it reminded me a little of Traumnovelle, in that it felt like a book/novella/long-short story / whatever, that by a weird twist of fate - potentially involving a publisher and a time machine - was written in this case I'd say forty or fifty years after it might have made most impact (view spoiler)[ though that works in the internal timeline of the story (hide spoiler)] , since it appears it was written when it was written - though I re No confusion for me. This was simply impressively bloodless, it reminded me a little of Traumnovelle, in that it felt like a book/novella/long-short story / whatever, that by a weird twist of fate - potentially involving a publisher and a time machine - was written in this case I'd say forty or fifty years after it might have made most impact (view spoiler)[ though that works in the internal timeline of the story (hide spoiler)] , since it appears it was written when it was written - though I remain open to correction by passing time travellers - in 1927. I think if you live somewhere where legally and socially sexual activity outside of a heterosexual marriage is a thoughtcrime, and particularly if you are unacquainted with cultures with different attitudes, then this story may retain some shock value, otherwise it is a very striking thing, a melodrama lacking in drama, or as I read elsewhere 'suitable for teenagers of all ages'. Otherwise...I fear I can hardly say anything for fear of revealing the entire story. The obvious point of reference is the 1912 novella by Thomas Mann Death in Venice (view spoiler)[ whoops spoiler alert (hide spoiler)] especially since the narrator like Mann himself comes from North Germany, ostensibly the narrator is explaining to the reader how his formal academic achievements explain nothing about him, instead the secret of his rive and the centre of his life can only be explained by events that took place when he was a teenager - a young student in Berlin and particularly in Göttingen (view spoiler)[ this is a point when it could have been an interesting story, in Berlin the narrator is explicitly sexually predatory, while Göttingen he will be prayed upon, the Tadzio in this story - but a far older one, another author could have taken us round the participants, I am thinking of Ford Madox Ford's The Good Soldier and led us into sympathy with the wife in a Lavender marriage, the husband who is obliged to hide his sexuality, the pretty teenager who may or may not be some kind of self portrait by Zweig, inside all we get is the young man's confusion which felt like something from a story about (older) school children (hide spoiler)] (I assume from how it is described). I was not convinced, but reading it as a cri du coeur from Zweig about Zweig it is mildly interesting, the narrator's horror of adultery because of the inevitable revelation of the intimate secrets of the other man sounds so singular to me that I wonder if it is Zweig's own feeling and that this is like the narrator and his inspirational professor a case of hiding in plain sight.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sam Quixote

    Confusion is about a university student who goes from party monster to serious student, becoming obsessed with his charismatic literature teacher – who has a “dark secret”! The two become close as the student helps the teacher write a book on Elizabethan theatre and then… things happen. Confusion is it for me and Stefan Zweig. Chess was a fine novella but everything I’ve read since has been mediocre to outright terrible; Confusion is firmly in the latter. It’s a self-consciously “literary” work Confusion is about a university student who goes from party monster to serious student, becoming obsessed with his charismatic literature teacher – who has a “dark secret”! The two become close as the student helps the teacher write a book on Elizabethan theatre and then… things happen. Confusion is it for me and Stefan Zweig. Chess was a fine novella but everything I’ve read since has been mediocre to outright terrible; Confusion is firmly in the latter. It’s a self-consciously “literary” work which, like all similar books, has some finely worded sentences none of which say anything. Zweig relies entirely upon his narrator being utterly naïve to what his infatuation with the teacher signals and what the teacher’s behaviour towards him means, which is an infuriating conceit because it’s so obvious what’s happening and the reader has to watch the predictable, overwrought melodrama play out exactly so at a tedious pace. There are pages and pages of useless blither about the wonders of academia and the life of the mind, none of which convinces as to their merits or entertains in the least. Zweig is not the sort of writer who tells stories heavy on plot, instead focusing on the emotional inner lives of his narrators, particularly Confusion’s; which is odd because his stories are never in the least emotionally affecting, for me anyway, as too often the reader is told to feel a certain way rather than believe or experience it themselves through the prose. A hinted-at subtext to the piece seems to indicate that repressed sexual nature can lead to needless misery and suffering, which is certainly seen in the story and I expect is a truism as well; but it doesn’t feel like that is Zweig’s main intent, nor does it seem that he especially empathises with his characters’ emotional turmoil. It’s a passing observation on societal mores and nothing else. Perhaps the reveal at the end, which anyone could have guessed well before long as Zweig’s “hints” are laughably broad, might’ve had more impact in the 1920s/30s but it’s not nearly as explosive today. It’s taken me nearly half a dozen novellas (I never claimed to be quick on the uptake!) to realise Stefan Zweig isn’t much of a writer. He can write pretty prose that is as transparent as his subjects and their stories but nothing substantial or memorable. Confusion is a contrivance, quasi-artfully constructed, with zero emotional heft to it. It’s also the last thing I’ll read by Stefan Zweig for a long time, if not ever again.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Stef Smulders

    A typical product of its era when the unconscious was only just discovered and writers started introducing characters that were tormented by hidden desires, nervous breakdowns, mental diseases. In that sense this novel is a bit outdated. The writing is superb, even in translation, with its long flowing sentences. The story itself is rather predictable, more now than when it was published probably and the subject doesn't shock the reader any more (I hope!). Fortunately Zweig really tries to portr A typical product of its era when the unconscious was only just discovered and writers started introducing characters that were tormented by hidden desires, nervous breakdowns, mental diseases. In that sense this novel is a bit outdated. The writing is superb, even in translation, with its long flowing sentences. The story itself is rather predictable, more now than when it was published probably and the subject doesn't shock the reader any more (I hope!). Fortunately Zweig really tries to portray the main character as honestly as was possible then. A peculiarity is that in the first chapter the old narrator realizes how limited biographies are as they can never reach into the hidden depths of the subject's soul. Is this Zweig speaking, the author of many biographies?

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tanya

    Zweig in this novel touches the taboo of his time and today: Homosexuality. A literature student, Roland, falls in a platonic love with his elderly philology professor at the university. The literary paragon’s personality diffuses into the blood and heart of Roland. This literary conquest is what will change the life of the Roland once and for all. He is baptized with religious faith and worship to the elderly man and reads night after day in order to be able to touch the spiritual world and the Zweig in this novel touches the taboo of his time and today: Homosexuality. A literature student, Roland, falls in a platonic love with his elderly philology professor at the university. The literary paragon’s personality diffuses into the blood and heart of Roland. This literary conquest is what will change the life of the Roland once and for all. He is baptized with religious faith and worship to the elderly man and reads night after day in order to be able to touch the spiritual world and the knowledge of the man who he has become obsessed with. The narration of emotional explosions, events and mental states is masterful. It's hard to describe how capturing it feels to read about the emotions that almost tear the characters in Zweig's book into pieces. But it is so incredibly relatable & extenuating to descry the very elementary psychological feelings that rage within all of us with different strength. My first ever by Stefan Zweig and I wasn’t disappointed at all. “We live through myriads of seconds, yet it is always one, just one, that casts our entire inner world into turmoil, the second when the internal inflorescence, already steeped in every kind of fluid, condenses and crystallizes.”

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tony

    Let’s see. A slightly annoying narrator serving as a kind of amanuensis to a creative genius. He becomes obsessed, sublimated to the great, enigmatic man. Foreboding shadows creep in. And then a night in a rented room. Cinematic darkness, like music, falls. A Confession. when suddenly, ashamed and dismayed, I stood before his self-forgetful figure, I felt as if it were only Wagner sitting there, a physical shell in Faust’s garment… And the underlying tension?: (view spoiler)[men loving men, altho Let’s see. A slightly annoying narrator serving as a kind of amanuensis to a creative genius. He becomes obsessed, sublimated to the great, enigmatic man. Foreboding shadows creep in. And then a night in a rented room. Cinematic darkness, like music, falls. A Confession. when suddenly, ashamed and dismayed, I stood before his self-forgetful figure, I felt as if it were only Wagner sitting there, a physical shell in Faust’s garment… And the underlying tension?: (view spoiler)[men loving men, although not so subtle here. (hide spoiler)] Oh, you Devil. Yes, this could be Doctor Faustus in novella form, and written twenty years before Mann’s work. Roland, the narrator, is a full participant in the plot, unlike Serenus, mostly an observer. And it is Roland’s story, his Confusion. Told in his voice, sounding in autobiography, this makes one wonder if there was more to Zweig’s tortured end than a certain coming conflagration.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

    In the past couple of decades, Austrian writer Stefan Zweig (1881-1942) has gained a new-found readership in the English-speaking world. This is largely thanks to the impassioned advocacy of a handful of independent publishing houses. Foremost amongst these is Pushkin Press, which has published most of Zweig's work in new translations, the majority of them by award-winning translator Anthea Bell. Zweig enjoyed great popularity during his lifetime and this led some critics to dismiss his works as In the past couple of decades, Austrian writer Stefan Zweig (1881-1942) has gained a new-found readership in the English-speaking world. This is largely thanks to the impassioned advocacy of a handful of independent publishing houses. Foremost amongst these is Pushkin Press, which has published most of Zweig's work in new translations, the majority of them by award-winning translator Anthea Bell. Zweig enjoyed great popularity during his lifetime and this led some critics to dismiss his works as facile and superficial. His novella Confusion should put such criticism to rest. The premise of the work is admittedly simple - a Privy Councillor who has dedicated his life to academia recalls the aging professor who, in his student days, kindled in him a love for learning. The (then) student’s instant and obsessive admiration for his teacher led him to take up lodgings in the same building where the professor lived with his young wife, and to assume the role of amanuensis/disciple to the older man. The novella effectively projects and dissects the “confusion of feelings” which this awkward triangular relationship gives rise to. Zweig’s interest in psychology, especially of the Freudian stamp, is evident in this novel’s insightful exploration of the mind-set of its characters and in the suppressed eroticism implied by words said and unsaid. I have elsewhere commented on my impression of Zweig as a “nostalgic” adrift in a rapidly changing world ( https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... ) This 1927 novella is, however, very much of its time – not only in its psychological concerns, but also in its head-on approach to (what must then have been) a taboo subject. If there is a harkening back to the 19th Century, it is in its rather overblown, melodramatic language – this, however, lends authenticity to the voice of the narrator who is, after all, an academic who has devoted his life to the study of past literature. This paperback edition of Confusion (in Anthea Bell’s brilliant translation) forms part of the attractively presented (and temptingly collectible) Pushkin Collection series.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Chuck LoPresti

    It's easy to dismiss Zweig as a pre-chewed Proust or half-stewed Stendhal and those criticisms are probably more than fair. But I think it's wrong to say that despite the relatively saccharine moments that Zweig doesn't write interesting books. I like Zweig's books the way I like music like the Carpenters. Sure it's all pretty obvious and pointed at a very general audience but there's something so polished and easy to digest that it's hard to ignore the skill on display. Zweig seems to have, at It's easy to dismiss Zweig as a pre-chewed Proust or half-stewed Stendhal and those criticisms are probably more than fair. But I think it's wrong to say that despite the relatively saccharine moments that Zweig doesn't write interesting books. I like Zweig's books the way I like music like the Carpenters. Sure it's all pretty obvious and pointed at a very general audience but there's something so polished and easy to digest that it's hard to ignore the skill on display. Zweig seems to have, at this point in his writing, found his stride - his formula. If you are reading Zweig for his psychological insight and you've already read Proust or Stendhal - you're going to leave this meal hungry - but if you're willing to go along for the ride - I think you'll enjoy the simple and insightful writing on display in Confusion. Zweig was a pop Stendhal the way I see it. I think I spent about three hours at most pouring through this - very little effort required - but I enjoyed the experience despite the fact that I was anything but intellectually challenged. I love Schoenberg - but it's Christmas time and I'd rather hear Christmas Portrait than Transfigured Night for a few weeks at least.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Adam Dalva

    A good novella - surprisingly generous in its sentiment and with some propulsive, anxious scenes. A paragraph toward the end, in particular, is worth clipping. But it is impossible to write about Confusion because the whole thing hinges on a secret that dominates most of the action. There are two main problems: 1: For such a lean thing, exposition overly dominates. 2: It has not aged well despite its forward-thinking. The hints are too broad, the implications too known. This isn't Zweig's fault (I A good novella - surprisingly generous in its sentiment and with some propulsive, anxious scenes. A paragraph toward the end, in particular, is worth clipping. But it is impossible to write about Confusion because the whole thing hinges on a secret that dominates most of the action. There are two main problems: 1: For such a lean thing, exposition overly dominates. 2: It has not aged well despite its forward-thinking. The hints are too broad, the implications too known. This isn't Zweig's fault (I actually think the treatment of the secret is sort of remarkable), but it has a reduced impact on the modern reader. The frame narrative is great (albeit abandoned) and I was hugely excited until the action settles where it settles. I also appreciated the look into 1920s academia. But what sets this well behind something like Chess Story is that there is no narrative turn. The introduction sells it like something out of a horror movie where the impact is known and anticipated and therefore all the more poignant. To which I respond: "yeah, but."

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jimmy

    For if one feels reverent passion even of a pure nature for a woman, it unconsciously strives for physical fulfilment; nature has created an image of ultimate union for it in the possession of the body--but how can a passion of the mind, offered by one man to another and impossible to fulfil, ever find complete satisfaction?I am very happy to have discovered Zweig thanks to a few of my GR friends (M. Sarki and Lee). He's a very good writer, and I was completely at the mercy of this story the who For if one feels reverent passion even of a pure nature for a woman, it unconsciously strives for physical fulfilment; nature has created an image of ultimate union for it in the possession of the body--but how can a passion of the mind, offered by one man to another and impossible to fulfil, ever find complete satisfaction?I am very happy to have discovered Zweig thanks to a few of my GR friends (M. Sarki and Lee). He's a very good writer, and I was completely at the mercy of this story the whole time, even though it's a simple one, and if told by a less skilled writer, I would most likely have been unimpressed or even bored. I love that title 'Confusion' also, because it echoes back through the entire book, and you realize how it is really meant. It's a short book, and anything else I say may give away too much... so just read it already. It's wonderful.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sahib Tulsi

    I cannot help but leave the worlds created by Stefan Zweig with a mingled sense of despair, heartache, ambiguity, and hope. Hope. I asked myself after finishing this novella why a tiny part of my heart can’t distance itself from this dangerous word when it is spending time with Stefan Zweig’s fiction? The answer lies in something that another enigmatically perceptive writer, Marcel Proust, wrote: “The power of our feelings often suppresses in us that faculty the immense importance of which we are I cannot help but leave the worlds created by Stefan Zweig with a mingled sense of despair, heartache, ambiguity, and hope. Hope. I asked myself after finishing this novella why a tiny part of my heart can’t distance itself from this dangerous word when it is spending time with Stefan Zweig’s fiction? The answer lies in something that another enigmatically perceptive writer, Marcel Proust, wrote: “The power of our feelings often suppresses in us that faculty the immense importance of which we are apt to overlook: the faculty of resignation.” Zweig’s incredibly immersive tales brighten the inner light of this faculty within me. This gut-wrenching tale is no different. It is one of the cruelest realizations of life that unless your heart has traversed through those unbearably painful paths of suffering and shame, your love ... your ability to love another person cannot rest in the tender embrace of ‘heroism’. By the time this realization dawns upon us, tragedy has already struck, for we have also come face to face with another realization: passion and sensitivity are inextricably woven in the same cloth of ... love. Either you resign to it, reveling in the absurdity, or else, you live as a shadow. Amidst all this, ‘Confusion’ is a fierce, fierce ode to literature, by a person whose inner world was so tumultuous and fiery that I would never have gathered the pluck to meet him in person! An absolute beaut of a book, written with a passion that can originate only in the most disturbing and anguished parts of one's heart. I shall recommend this book to every person of letters I meet. A sincere thank you to Anthea Bell for such profound translation.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    Confusion is properly titled but I will get to that in a bit. As previously noted, Zweig has become one of my top ten favorite authors in just a short while (read 4 of his books now) and it is unusual since I had not ever heard of him and the story of his life. Let me first deal with what is to some an argumentative topic. Confusion falls within a genre that I would call literary fiction. There are some who will take exception to this distinction but I did borrow it from The Storied Life of A. J Confusion is properly titled but I will get to that in a bit. As previously noted, Zweig has become one of my top ten favorite authors in just a short while (read 4 of his books now) and it is unusual since I had not ever heard of him and the story of his life. Let me first deal with what is to some an argumentative topic. Confusion falls within a genre that I would call literary fiction. There are some who will take exception to this distinction but I did borrow it from The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry. Zweig's writing is exceptionally beautifully and an excellent example of literary fiction as the following example passages show. "For this remarkable man constructed it all out of his musicality of feeling: he always needed some vibrant note to set his ideas flowing. Usually it was an image, a bold metaphor, a situation visualized in three-dimension which he extended into a dramatic scene, involuntarily working himself up as he went rapidly along. Something of all that is grandly natural in creativity would often flash from the swift radiance of these improvisations; I remember lines that seemed to be from a poem in iambic metre, others that poured out like cataracts in magnificently compressed enumerations." "All this is forty years ago, yet still today, when I am in the middle of a lecture and what I am saying breaks free from me and spreads its wings, I am suddenly, self-consciously aware that it is not I myself speaking, but someone else, as it were, out of my mouth. Then I recognize the voice of the beloved dead, who now has breath only on my lips: when enthusiasms comes over me, he and I are one. And I know that those hours formed me." "One can't have literary comprehension without real experience, mere grammatical knowledge of the words is useless without recognition of their values. You should begin by hearing the language in the mouths of the poets who create and perfect it, you must feel warm and alive in your hearts before we start anatomizing it." One of the aspects that has impressed me about Zweig was been his willingness at an early time (early 20th century) to take on subjects of social controversy. And he did so in a less than progressive and highly conservative country (Germany). Such subjects include abortion (Amok), homosexuality (Confusion) and unrequited love (Letters from an Unknown Woman). Confusion strongly touches upon the subject of homosexuality in terms of discrimination, conflicts with heterosexuality, marriage, and personal stress (hence the well-worded title). Our protagonist's teachers' wife says "It will soon be cleared up, because I am not letting him play with you and confuse [emphasis!] you like that anymore. There must be an end to all this; he must finally learn to control himself. You're too good for his dangerous games. Don't torment yourself; believe me, he doesn't deserve it. And that almost inaudibly whispered remark struck pain into my almost pacified heart once more." Another mention of confusion is "Jealous rage rose more and more grimly within me, once again I dully felt my foolishly confused desire to do something to harm him, something hateful. A kind of fear came over me, a fear of myself and the vague turmoil of hatred within me, and I wanted to refuse [go downstairs to dinner with his teacher's wife]. But cravenly, I did not venture to say no." I won't go any further (and perhaps you are cheering at this point if you have come to it) but I will leave you to consider this read by yourself. If anything, you can be the 4th person to have read and entered a review on Goodreads. I was the third and Confusion currently carries a 5 star rating, obviously the highest possible. One last aside. I am not sure what relevance it has but we do not learn the name of our protagonist (Roland) until page 110! And we never learn the names of his professor or the professor's wife. The absence of the professor's name seems obviously intentional as Roland seeks to hide the identity of his teacher. Notwithstanding that, it seems like everyone (and Roland is the last to learn) knows of the professor's predilections.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Viji (Bookish endeavors)

    A wonderful story of love and admiration. Zweig beautifully portrays the two different kinds of love,divine and lustful. The admiration that every teenager feels towards his/her teacher and the extremes to which one goes to get that teacher's attention is described in words not much different from what happens in the real world. Intensity of emotions is what marks every work of Zweig,in my opinion. And that intensity is visible throughout the story. With Zweig,no emotion is simple,it's never jus A wonderful story of love and admiration. Zweig beautifully portrays the two different kinds of love,divine and lustful. The admiration that every teenager feels towards his/her teacher and the extremes to which one goes to get that teacher's attention is described in words not much different from what happens in the real world. Intensity of emotions is what marks every work of Zweig,in my opinion. And that intensity is visible throughout the story. With Zweig,no emotion is simple,it's never just an emotion. He makes it so sophisticated and intense as if that one emotion justify one's existence at that point. And that's why every work by Zweig leaves one in a tumult of emotions. You can't read it like any other book. You need to make sure that you won't be disturbed till you finish it and that you will be free for few hours after you finish it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ibtissam

    Amazing book, beautifully written, completely disconnected me from The real world surrounding me and that's what a book should do to it's reader.

  19. 5 out of 5

    SUN50

    Another gem from Stefan Zweig (con TRADUZIONE) Stefan Zweig's voice channeled through his lead character, a drifting youth suddenly inspired to academic achievement through his exposure to an older professor's passionate lectures on Shakespeare, is infused with such passion and range of emotion and gives this short Novella a level of depth that would be admirable in a much longer and more developed work. Zweig accomplishes much with an economic use of words. Essentially this is the story of a you Another gem from Stefan Zweig (con TRADUZIONE) Stefan Zweig's voice channeled through his lead character, a drifting youth suddenly inspired to academic achievement through his exposure to an older professor's passionate lectures on Shakespeare, is infused with such passion and range of emotion and gives this short Novella a level of depth that would be admirable in a much longer and more developed work. Zweig accomplishes much with an economic use of words. Essentially this is the story of a young man at the university who becomes enthralled with and enamored of one of his professors. He seems to almost be in love with the old, withdrawn professor. This professor, however, seems to alternate moods when with the young man, first, seeming to enjoy his company and then seeking to avoid and almost dislike him. The young man soon is living in a room in the professor's home. The mystery involves the relationship between the two men--essentially what is the professor hiding and why does he act so erratically toward his young student. The student eventually gets involved briefly with the professor's wife. At the end, we learn the great professor's secret. I enjoyed the book, and would recommend it for those who enjoy dramatic writing and slow-paced psychological themes. TRADUZIONE La voce di Stefan Zweig incanalata attraverso il suo personaggio principale, un giovane alla deriva improvvisamente ispirato ad ottenere risultati accademici attraverso la sua esposizione alle lezioni appassionate di un professore più anziano su Shakespeare, è infuso di tanta passione e gamma di emozioni e dà a questa breve Novella un livello di profondità che sarebbe ammirevole in un lavoro molto più lungo e sviluppato. Zweig riesce molto con un uso economico delle parole. Fondamentalmente questa è la storia di un giovane all'università che rimane affascinato da uno dei suoi professori. Sembra quasi innamorato del vecchio professore. Questo professore, tuttavia, sembra alternare gli umori quando con il giovane, prima, sembra godere della sua compagnia e poi cerca di evitarlo. Il giovane presto vive in una stanza nella casa del professore. Il mistero riguarda la relazione tra i due uomini - essenzialmente cosa nasconde il professore e perché agisce in modo così irregolare nei confronti del suo giovane studente. Alla fine lo studente viene coinvolto brevemente con la moglie del professore. Alla fine, apprendiamo il segreto del grande professore. Mi è piaciuto il libro e lo consiglierei a chi ama la scrittura drammatica e temi psicologici lenti.

  20. 4 out of 5

    julieta

    I have always held some affection for Zweig, because I think "World of Yesterday" is pretty great, but reading this makes me think that maybe his thing isn't fiction. It didn't really move me, I found it, just okey, which is worse than really bad, because no matter how much he seems to put into it, it didn't move me that much. I will read his book on Brasil, though, and I hope that book is a better example of what he's like in his true territory, at least for me.

  21. 5 out of 5

    IZZa

    i've read this book previously but the arabic version. it is not the best of Zweigs work.

  22. 5 out of 5

    everytimemydear

    probably the most beautifully written book i've ever read

  23. 5 out of 5

    Realini

    Confusion by Stefan Zweig Another version of this note and thoughts on other books are available at: - https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list... I am confused... After reading most of the book, I thought that the hero has an affection for his teacher and vice versa. Nevertheless, there seems to have been more than I detected. Yet, in a note posted on YouTube after finishing the first part I have speculated on the undercurrents of this account. There appeared to be an intimacy that recalled the Ancient G Confusion by Stefan Zweig Another version of this note and thoughts on other books are available at: - https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list... I am confused... After reading most of the book, I thought that the hero has an affection for his teacher and vice versa. Nevertheless, there seems to have been more than I detected. Yet, in a note posted on YouTube after finishing the first part I have speculated on the undercurrents of this account. There appeared to be an intimacy that recalled the Ancient Greek closeness between a master and his pupil, or a mentor and his protégé. But I was surprised by the evolution of things and I do not know to the end where the protégé stands. Really. He might belong to both teams as it were and the Confusion in the title may refer to his belonging to one or both of these groups. I am trying to talk sexual orientation here. And I think that the hero is not really sure where he is, or at least he gave me- or rather the author - the impression that his state is one of Confusion To begin with, the young man has a normal life. In fact his father stumbles upon him as he has sex with a girl. And he had been at it with various maids, shop assistants and farm hands. Since the father wanted the son to study, he is upset and sends him to a different town. It is here that he meets the professor and he is mesmerized by the eloquence, presence of the older man. On the first day that is. Because seeing him again on the next day, the teacher appears tired, exhausted even. Notwithstanding that disappointment, a strong bond is established. Repeating myself here...I thought it is all platonic. Especially since there is a wife and the student encounters her while swimming and is attracted to her. The reader learns that the professor has a bad reputation, but I attributed it to the envy and hatred of inferior people. Which in the end it was to a great extent. This love triangle or threesome as they call it in comedies today has a convoluted trajectory. First, the young man is enchanted by his older teacher. His affection is indubitable, if pure...or so I thought and I am not sure anymore as aforementioned. Then there is a camaraderie established between the student and the wife that turns into a love affair. The hero is overwhelmed and shaken to the point of destitution by this infidelity and betrayal. Even if the wife tells him to relax and think that the professor would not mind... He is different - How different? It would be more than worthwhile to read and find about this and much more from this excellent novel

  24. 5 out of 5

    Brad

    It is easy to see why Zweig was at one time one of the most popular writers in the world. The style (in the hands of translator Anthea Bell) is simple, the plot built from episodes of perfectly sustained and released narrative tension, the characters appearing both believable and completely comprehensible. But these qualities are also flaws—the style too transparent; the characters too complete; the plot too perfect a vehicle for the revelation of character. Everything is so cleanly resolved tha It is easy to see why Zweig was at one time one of the most popular writers in the world. The style (in the hands of translator Anthea Bell) is simple, the plot built from episodes of perfectly sustained and released narrative tension, the characters appearing both believable and completely comprehensible. But these qualities are also flaws—the style too transparent; the characters too complete; the plot too perfect a vehicle for the revelation of character. Everything is so cleanly resolved that there is nothing left to think about. So I think that there is a (very) small germ of truth in Michael Hofmann's otherwise apoplectic essay on Zweig in the London Review of Books early last year. But these are simply reasons why Zweig shouldn't be mentioned in the same breath as Musil and Kafka, and that quibble aside, Confusion is an enjoyable book. The portrait of the naïvely passionate and confused student is excellent (and this is where the simplicity of the characterisation is least damaging, since the character is himself believably simple-minded). And the description of the work and personal impact of the elderly teacher is subtly done, with Zweig painting a picture that explains both why his students are enraptured and why he has not made a large professional impact. The flaw here is rather in the characterisation of the teacher as possessed of two stark elements, combined like particles rather than blended like fluids. There is the public intellectual life and the private sexual life, and they never interact but rather simply compete for visibility—indeed, as if to underscore the problem, these elements are represented in the novella as predominantly existing in physically distinct spaces, with the one occurring in the quiet village and the other in the roaring city. There's no resisting the beauty of Pushkin's editions however, and the perfect size of the Zweig novellas for carrying around in a jacket pocket make them ideal for ripping through on the subway just like the mass market entertainment critics like Hofmann have maintained they are.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas During

    Not quite sure what to think about Zweig really. In a way, he is a really good story teller, and this is a gripping story. In another way, he is a pretty terrible writer. I feel like he adds phrases on to sentences that just repeat what he has already said. And repetition is a real problem. I think I read the word "confusion" in this book at least 50 times. But he does continue a German tradition of highly emotional, romantic writing. Before this I read Goethe The Sorrows of Young Werther and I Not quite sure what to think about Zweig really. In a way, he is a really good story teller, and this is a gripping story. In another way, he is a pretty terrible writer. I feel like he adds phrases on to sentences that just repeat what he has already said. And repetition is a real problem. I think I read the word "confusion" in this book at least 50 times. But he does continue a German tradition of highly emotional, romantic writing. Before this I read Goethe The Sorrows of Young Werther and I can see the link. Though Goethe was a lot more original and interesting, which is pretty impressive for someone writing 200 years earlier. The other problem I have with this book is the absolute information the author gives on the protagonists thoughts; we literally know every motive, thought, and desire (unconscious or not). He even spends a lot of time describing peoples faces in a way that lets us know what they are thinking at that moment. Which gets a bit old I must say. However I actually did like the book, and funnily enough, partially because of my above criticism. Much of the strength comes from the tension between our complete over-knowledge of the student Rolland's mind, and the absolute absence of knowledge on the professor and his wife. Also, in regards to the somewhat extra writing that Zweig embarks on here, there is also plenty of wonderful sentences that one recognizes as being really amazing while reading. This are the kind of sentences wannabe authors blog on Tumblr. And I have nothing against psychological novels, I think it is a really important way to think about characters and dialog and action and all that. And in Confusion Zweig shows once again he is a master of that.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Can I give it 6 stars? It's one of those rare books that leave your heart exhausted, gasping for air, like after a long strenuous but satisfying race. Very Mannish, reminds me of Death of Venice. And why are German authors so good?! Mann, Hesse and now Zweig.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jim Blevins

    A dense, moving but sometimes obsessive and grim, novella.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Suad Alhalwachi

    I am a sucker for great words and eloquent writing and this book hit every part of my brain. Relationship between student and teacher and how this relationship had changed the student’s life and made him a better student who cared about his work. This time the relationship is between a male student and a male teacher. One cannot tell if there is any insinuation of sexual feelings between them. To me it just seemed very strong academic link. The teacher has moods and at times he can be great and I am a sucker for great words and eloquent writing and this book hit every part of my brain. Relationship between student and teacher and how this relationship had changed the student’s life and made him a better student who cared about his work. This time the relationship is between a male student and a male teacher. One cannot tell if there is any insinuation of sexual feelings between them. To me it just seemed very strong academic link. The teacher has moods and at times he can be great and all his students will be transformed by his lecture and in other times he will be weird and will look old. The student who has been a naughty once, never attended his classes and always with one girl or the other, admired him and actually helped him in writing his never to be published masterpiece about the poets of England such as Shakespeare and co and many others. The story was told in a great way that will make you read non stop and probably dream about for nights. The translation is superb, not a single mistake or typo. Sometimes there is a word in German or French maybe because one cannot find a proper translation for it in English. Otherwise the book is spotless.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kusaimamekirai

    This novella by Stefan Zweig starts slowly with the story of Roland, a young college student who acts like…well…a college student. He skips class, lies to his family about it to pocket the cash he gets from them, and sleeps with anything with a pulse. He’s cocky, uninterested in anything outside of his own urges and impulses and is generally pretty unlikable. That is, until Roland’s dad forces him back into school and he encounters a new and hypnotic professor. From that moment on, Roland is t This novella by Stefan Zweig starts slowly with the story of Roland, a young college student who acts like…well…a college student. He skips class, lies to his family about it to pocket the cash he gets from them, and sleeps with anything with a pulse. He’s cocky, uninterested in anything outside of his own urges and impulses and is generally pretty unlikable. That is, until Roland’s dad forces him back into school and he encounters a new and hypnotic professor. From that moment on, Roland is transfixed by his presence and his life becomes inextricable linked with that of his professor, with far reaching consequences for them both. As in most of Zweig’s stories, action takes a backseat to the inner world and torment of his characters. In Roland and the professor (as well as the professor’s wife) we see people seemingly in control on the outside but frantically trying to hold their worlds together internally. This tension is what makes this story so compelling and by the story’s end, exhausting. As a writer, there were few better than Zweig than understanding the inner turmoil of men and women and that ability is on full display here. I can’t say this story is enjoyable, the subject matter prohibits me from using that particular adjective, but it is always compelling.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    I am not confused about Confusion. It is a beautiful story, brilliantly crafted, with Zweig's usual 'economy and subtlety', as Robert MacFarlane was quoted on the book jacket. There are numerous great expressions, such as 'intellectual gladiators' to describe academics. I will need to reread just to capture and savor again the highlights of his prose. Part way through the story, we can imagine what the outcome is, but Zweig still surprised me and gave such power and emotion to the ending that it I am not confused about Confusion. It is a beautiful story, brilliantly crafted, with Zweig's usual 'economy and subtlety', as Robert MacFarlane was quoted on the book jacket. There are numerous great expressions, such as 'intellectual gladiators' to describe academics. I will need to reread just to capture and savor again the highlights of his prose. Part way through the story, we can imagine what the outcome is, but Zweig still surprised me and gave such power and emotion to the ending that it was as if I had been transported into the main character's heart.

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