Dünün Dünyası

by Stefan Zweig


The World of Yesterday is the autobiography of Austrian writer Stefan Zweig. It is considered the most famous book on the Habsburg Empire. He started writing it in 1934 when, anticipating Anschluss and Nazi persecution, he uprooted himself from Austria to England and later to Brazil. He posted the manuscript, typed by his second wife Lotte Altmann, to the publisher the day before they both committed suicide in February 1942. The book was first published in Stockholm, as Die Welt von Gestern. It was first published in English in April 1943 by Viking Press.
The book describes life in Vienna at the start of the 20th century with detailed anecdotes. It depicts the dying days of Austria-Hungary under Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria, including the system of education and the sexual ethics prevalent at the time, the same that provided the backdrop to the emergence of psychoanalysis.
According to Zweig, earlier European societies, where religion had a central role, condemned sexual impulses as work of the devil. The late 19th century had abandoned the devil as an explanation of sexuality; hence it lacked a language able to describe and condemn sexual impulses.

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First half a bit too artsy for me. I get lost in all the artists and literay figures of a different age. But the second half of this book is a fascinating look at a dark time in history.

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