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Zweig Stefan : Beware of Pity Paperback – Apr 1984

4.4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Valentine's Day Gifts in Books
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 353 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd (April 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452255120
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452255128
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 2.5 x 12.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
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Product Description


Beware of Pity is the most exciting book I have ever read... a feverish, fascinating novel -- Anthony Beevor Sunday Telegraph --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Stefan Zweig was born in 1881 in Vienna, a member of a wealthy Austrian-Jewish family. He studied in Berlin and Vienna and was first known as a poet and translator, then as a biographer. Zweig travelled widely, living in Salzburg between the wars. In 1934 he briefly moved to London, taking British citizenship. After a short period in New York he settled in Brazil in 1942. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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By A Customer on March 15 2006
Format: Hardcover
Why is EP from NS's review at the top here? Please read the other thoughtful reviews and not to this poor boor's opinion. He or she is simply not up to this book. Beware of Pity is not boring or slow. That is nonsense! I read it in two days. This is a novel unlike any I have read in my life: it is not only the masterpiece of a great writer, it reveals a mind of penetrating psychological insight, so rare in people and in books today that it is worth reading for that reason alone. The intellectual culture Stefan Zweig represents may have vanished with Nazi barbarism but this novel gives us a glimpse of what a high culture can offer at its best.
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Format: Paperback
The scenario is settled at the beginning of the XXth century, right before the outburst of WW I with the murder of the prince of Austria, an event subtly knitted to the action taking place in the novel.
25 years old lieutenant Hofmiller, protagonist and narrator, is the prototype of the young man who has never cared much about anything but his own career and who has taken everything for granted during his whole life. Being good hearted, he hasn't yet experienced a strong attachment to a woman, nor he had even been deeply loved by any.
He describes himself as a not very thoughtful or introspective person, whose only worries were related to his horses and his position in the army.... until he meets Edith Von Kekesfalva. She is the lamed daughter of a Jewish rich man who became an aristocrat by purchasing the nobility title and changing his name.

Due to a gaffe Hofmiller commits [inviting the girl for a dance] a dense and excruciating relationship between both starts. The author delves deep into all the intricacies such a bond entails and the situations which arise when pity rules human behavior and is entangled with sincere love. Although the book may not seem very engaging at the beginning, the interest grows as the tension increases between the characters, leading to the dramatic circumstances that trigger the wonderful end.
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Format: Paperback
Toni Hofmiller, a 25 year-old lieutenant in the Austrian army prior to the outbreak of WWI, meets Edith, the daughter of the local magnate. Toni committs a "gaffe", asking her to dance while not realizing until too late that Edith is handicapped and cannot walk. Suddenly Toni becomes aware of (and, as an immature youth, is trapped by) the power of compassion. Through no fault of his own (unless good intentions can make one culpable), he leads Edith and her father to believe that Edith may be cured.
"Beware of Pity" has been called a psychological novel, perhaps because the narrator (Toni) alternates in describing his feelings of self-love, power and satisfaction (when visiting Edith and thus sharing his goodness and compassion), and those of confusion and despair when realizing, unwittingly, that Edith has fallen in love with him. He is driven deeper into despair when told by Dr. Condor, Edith's doctor, that Edith may die if her love is unrequited. In analyzing the conflicted feelings of Toni, Zweig wrote a formidable novel of compassion and responsibility for one's actions. Dr. Condor serves as the literary foil of Toni; the doctor's true compassion for Edith (i.e., "unsentimental but productive, that knows what it wants and is ready to share in one's suffering to the limit, and beyond") contrasts starkly with Toni's unbridled compassion, which is nothing more than the other type of compassion, false, fleeting and unreliable, "the impatience of the heart" (which, incidentally, in the direct translation of the title from the original German). Zweig does not fault Toni for his youthful immaturity, as shown by Dr. Condor's feelings for Toni. Zweig does not, however, exonerate him from blame, and the tale moves forward, inexorably, to its tragic end.
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Format: Paperback
People of the younger generation need to know that Stefan Zweig is still available for a good read, both as a biographer and a novelist. I am just getting into his novels, and what I have discovered is nothing short of brilliant and captivating story-telling about everyday relational experiences that cut across generations. You could say that Zweig not only tells an emotionally packed tale full of intrigue, suspense, angst and conflict but he also gives his readers something to chew on when it comes to handling the bigger issues of life as he personally confronted them. The one covered here deals with why we might be well advised to not indulge in pity or the feeling of sympathy for the suffering. The plot line involves a young Austrian lieutenant living in pre-WW I Vienna and the daughter of a local Jewish businessman. They have come together under very awkward circumstances: he mistakenly asks her for a dance at a regimental ball, not knowing that she is a cripple. Feeling embarrassed about his 'gaffe' and the shame it has supposedly brought Edith, Hofmiller will agonize for days as to how to atone for his undoing. It will not be long before she very wily insinuates her way into his life by using her father to invite him to visit her at her schloss. She desperately wants someone who can take care of her emotional needs without drawing attention to her physical impairments. Hofmiller, a good natured person, becomes entrapped in a relationship where he caters to this 'crazy' woman's needs for affection while not being allowed to show pity or care for her suffering. Edith is obviously in a serious state of denial as will become apparent by the efforts of her doting father who is prepared to do anything to insure her happiness and well-being, even if it means denying the truth.Read more ›
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