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by Anthea Bell,Stefan Zweig




In the autumn of his days, a distinguished privy councillor contemplates his past, looking back at the key moments of his life. A reluctant and indolent student, he recalls the chance meeting with a professor and his wife, which leads to his sharing their lodgings. In a flash of revelation, the professor unlocks his thirst for knowledge and an ambiguous and close friendship is formed. But the professor harbors a dark secret which changes and scars both men forever.
Download Confusion: The Private Papers of Privy Councillor R von D epub
ISBN: 1901285227
ISBN13: 978-1901285222
Category: Gay and Lesbian
Subcategory: Literature & Fiction
Author: Anthea Bell,Stefan Zweig
Language: English
Publisher: Pushkin Press (February 27, 2006)
ePUB size: 1397 kb
FB2 size: 1252 kb
Rating: 4.5
Votes: 201
Other Formats: docx rtf txt lit

Marige
Brief summary and review, no spoilers.

Confusion is told from the point of view of a 60 year old Privy Counselor named Roland who is being honored for his years as a scholar and professor. He is amused at the incorrect "memories" and ideas that others have of his motivations and his past in becoming an academic and he starts to think back on what was the turning point in his life that led him to become who he is.

The story then takes us back in time and Roland is a young man not interested at all in academics but being forced to go to university by his father. He resists and instead leads a somewhat debauched life but when his father finds out, he is sent to a smaller school and he earnestly decides to try. Right away he encounters an elderly professor of the classics and poetry giving a lecture and Roland becomes enthralled. The professor allows Roland to move in with him and the professor's young wife.

While living at their house and helping the professor regain his spark for learning and finishing a scholarly paper he had never finished, Roland begins to find himself disoriented and confused by the professor's erratic behavior towards him. Roland greatly admires the professor and finds his own moods dependent on his treatment by the professor and whether or not the professor cares about him. At the same time, Roland finds himself attracted to the professor's young wife and is confused by how distant the professor is from his wife and how different they are in so many ways.

As the story progresses, Roland gets more obsessed with the professor and the wife and distances himself from the other students at the school. He cannot figure out the mystery of what is going on at their house and desperately wants to understand what is going on.

By the end of the novel, you learn the "secret" so to speak and understand why Roland felt so tormented and how this changed his own life.

The title of this novel better translates to "emotional maelstrom" in German. This is a beautifully written novella and in many ways is classic Zweig. If you've never read him before, I'm not sure this is the place to start but it give you a good example of the empathy and observational skills of the author and his beautiful prose. I often have problems with translations but never with Zweig - his writing is transcendent.

The "secret" certainly explains the "confusion" that Roland feels but the book also looks at the process of aging and how the young are enthusiastic and optimistic and the old are more reminiscent and melancholy - but that's because Zweig himself was that way. What the book does through it's beautiful language is make us feel that disorientation and angst that Roland feels. This novella makes us lose our bearings the way Roland does.

If you haven't read Zweig before, I would recommend reading Beware of Pity (New York Review Books Classics) or The Post-Office Girl (New York Review Books Classics) They are both more traditionally told stories and they are both terrific. This novella, Confusion, has entire pages consisting of the same paragraph which are beautifully written but may not be to some people's cuppa.

Recommended, especially for fans of this great author.
Mullador
A friend who teaches European lit asked me if I didn't think Stefan Zweig was "sentimental." But in the case of "Confusion," all the high emotion fits the story of a rather obsessive-compulsive young man, who is rather disinterested in learning until he meets the right teacher. Framed by the perspective of this same young man as a 60-year-old professor, the tale is even more poignant. This tale of an over-eager student, who can't see that he's behaving like a spurned lover when his teacher criticizes him, is a searing psychological study. Considering that Zweig gave the eulogy at Freud's funeral, who better to explore such things? I've never read a work by Zweig I didn't find richly textured, beautifully written, and deeply felt. If that's "sentimental," then I plead guilty!
Pooker
Easy read, but not too profound. Analysis of male relationships. Probably daring for its time. I came away without too much remembered. Make sure you read his autobiography first.
Browelali
I knew of Zweig as Richard Strauss' librettist. Wanting to see what his work was like when he stood on his own I discovered his novella, "Confusion". Elegantly and tautly written it is the story of a respected professor reflecting back upon his life and about the man who had the greatest impact on his life. This man is his English professor. As a young student, our narrator is drawn to this brooding man and his mysterious wife. He is drawn into the web of their lives and the terrible secret that is hidden there.
Wizard
This poignant novella is a must-read for those interested in German literary history. While Franz Kafka, Rainer Maria Rilke, Thomas Mann and Gunter Grass are the most prominent figures of 20th century Germanic literature, writers like Stefan Zweig and Joseph Roth deserve recognition for their novellas, novels and stories.

I would best describe Zweig's literary approach as neo-romanticism. Reading him I am reminded of the symphonies of Gustav Mahler. Zweig's writing is elaborate, rich, his prose is touching, emotional and lush in a very straightforward way. For an author who was a specialist in the short story and the novella, his sentences are quite long and his sentiments are overloaded. I loved this little book but at times Zweig being Zweig, describes and over-describes situations and feelings.

One might call this tale about a love triangle but that would be far too simple. A young man, without direction, in an obvious rebellion against his father leads a dissolute life in Berlin only to be rebuked for his behavior and sent to a smaller city to study. He enrolls in English literature classes after hearing the lecture of a passionate professor discussing the world of Elizabethan theatre. Drawn to the professor, the narrator finds accommodations in the latter's home, eventually meeting the older man's wife. Tensions build, secrets are revealed and philosophies and memories shared.

Zweig, like many German men of letters has a philosophical and psychological approach to telling his tale. He was an early follower of Freud and ingested much of the insights of his Viennese contemporaries. This is a beautiful read. Zweig's works are a must and this one especially.