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The Post Office Girl

The Post Office Girl [Kindle Edition]

Stefan Zweig , Joel Rotenberg

Kindle-Preis: EUR 4,68 Inkl. MwSt. und kostenloser drahtloser Lieferung über Amazon Whispernet

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“Is it possible to have a realist fairy story? If so, this is it. The characters are so well realised and observed, and there are passages of such imaginative immersion, that we owe its publisher our gratitude for bringing it into English for the first time. What a treat this book is”. --The Spectator (UK)

“An exhilarating ski run of poverty, joy and misery... it is the girl's ecstatic naivety and Zweig's sparkling prose that makes the old stories so sweetly fresh and, when the whole dream collapses, so devastatingly sad”. --The Sunday Times (UK)

"In The Post-Office Girl Stefan Zweig explores the details of everyday life in language that pierces both brain and heart...The story is poignant, painful, and must be one of fiction’s darkest indictments of how poverty destroys hope, enjoyment, beauty, brightness and laughter, and how money, no matter how falsely, provides ease and delight." --The Spectator (UK)

"This is a fascinating depiction of the effects of history on individual lives." --The Financial Times

"The Post Office Girl is a fine novel and an excellent place to start if you are new to this great Austrian novelist. It is a powerful social history, describing in moving detail the social impact of the First World War, and the extreme poverty in which so many people were forced to live. It shows up the challenge to European civilisation of the early Thirties and the failure of humanism, in which Zweig believed until the end of his life. And it is remarkable for the bleak interior worlds it depicts of anxiety, self-doubt, depression and disintegration. Zweig succeeded in taking the most complex concepts of psychoanalysis and bringing them vividly to life." --The Telegraph

"Stefan Zweig was a late and magnificent bloom from the hothouse of fin de siecle Vienna...The posthumous publication of a Zweig novel affords an opportunity to revisit this gifted writer...The Post-Office Girl is captivating." --The Wall Street Journal

"... nowhere else in his fiction does Zweig confront the legacy of the Great War with as deep a social reach or as detailed a human sympathy as he does in The Post-Office Girl... we are lucky to have the book, not only for its devastating picture of postwar Austrian life but also because it represents so radical a departure from Zweig's other fiction as to signal the existence of a hitherto unsuspected literary personality..." —William Deresiewicz, The Nation

"[In this] ... beautiful translation by Joel Rotenberg.... Stefan Zweig finds a universal story of psychological struggle and spiritual testing in a bitter but humane indictment of class inequality. He finds a love story, of a sort, in a quest story, and a quest story in a love story. He finds anger in compassion, and compassion in anger; beauty in suffering, and suffering in beauty." --The New York Observer

"[Zweig is a] writer who understands perfectly the life he is describing, and who has great analytic gifts . . . " –Stephen Spender, The New York Review of Books

"Always [Zweig] remains essentially the same, revealing in all . . . mediums his subtlety of style, his profound psychological knowledge and his inherent humaneness." –Barthold Fles, The New Republic

"His writing reveals his sympathy for fellow human beings." –Ruth Franklin, London Review of Books

“The experience of reading Zweig is not so much of entering the world of the story as of plunging inward and dreaming the story.” –Rachel Cohen, Bookforum

“A brilliant writer.” –Louis Kronenberger, The New York Times

“Admired by readers as diverse as Freud, Einstein, Toscanini, Thomas Mann and Herman Goering.” –Edwin McDowell, The New York Times


Cinderella meets Bonnie and Clyde in Zweig's posthumous classic, available here in English for the first time.

Christine toils in a provincial post office in Austria just after World War One, a country gripped by unemployment. Out of the blue, a telegram arrives from her rich American aunt inviting Christine to a resort in the Swiss Alps. Immediately she is swept up into a world of inconceivable wealth and unleashed desire. She feels herself utterly transformed: nothing is impossible. But then, abruptly, her aunt cuts her loose and Christine is forced to return to the Post office where nothing will ever be the same.
In this haunting yet compassionate reworking of the Cinderella story, Zweig shows us the human cost of the boom and bust of capitalism. The Post Office Girl was completed during the 1930s as Zweig was driven by the Nazis into exile, and was found among his papers after his suicide in 1942. It is available here for the first time in English.

'Zweig is one of the masters of the short story and novella, and by 'one of the masters' I mean that he's up there with Maupassant, Checkhov, James, Poe or indeed anyone you care to name.' Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 473 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 274 Seiten
  • ISBN-Quelle für Seitenzahl: B006ZOYNYO
  • Verlag: Sort Of (18. August 2011)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B0087GZJCS
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #62.698 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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Mehr über den Autor

In Wien wurde Stefan Zweig als zweiter Sohn eines reichen Fabrikanten am 28. November 1881 geboren. Schon während seiner Gymnasialzeit verfasste er Gedichte, nahm dann in Wien das Studium der Literaturgeschichte auf und begann zu reisen - durch Europa ebenso wie nach Tunesien oder Mexiko. Als Übersetzer des Franzosen Romain Rolland oder des Belgiers Emile Verhaeren machte er sich ebenso einen Namen wie durch seine eigenen Werke. Der Zweite Weltkrieg, Bücherverbrennung und Verfolgung ließen Zweig schließlich nach Brasilien emigrieren. Unter dem Eindruck deutscher Kriegserfolge und erschöpft von unfreiwilliger Migration sowie dem Verlust seiner - vor allem auch geistigen - Heimat Europa nahm sich der Sechzigjährige zusammen mit seiner Frau Lotte am 23. Februar 1942 das Leben.

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58 von 63 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen "Which way shall I fly? Infinite wrath and infinite despair? 20. Juni 2008
Von Leonard Fleisig - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
. . . and in the lowest deep a lower deep,
Still threatening to devour me, opens wide,
To which the hel l I suffer seems a heaven."
John Milton, Paradise Lost

There are some books that you can finish, put back down on the table and five-minutes later have it virtually erased from your consciousness. Stefan Zweig's "The Post-Office Girl" stayed with me long after I put the book down. It is a brilliantly crafted book that looks at the mind-boggling despair that can crush the soul out of just about anyone. What makes the book memorable is the fact that Zweig does not write with an overwhelming appeal to pathos. No, instead, Zweig is direct and his narrative manages to convey this sense of despair without drowning the reader in rhetorical devices aimed at soliciting sympathy for his characters.

The setting is post World War I Austria in the 1920s. The Austro-Hungarian empire has been dismantled after the Treaty of Versailles and Austria, like her ally Germany, is suffering the `economic consequences of the peace'. The Post-Office Girl is Christine Hoflehner. At the war's outset, Christine and her family enjoyed a comfortable middle-class existence in Vienna. But the war and the economic suffering brought on by the hyper-inflation of the 1920s has booted Christine out of Vienna and her middle class life. She and her mother live at the poverty level in a one-room bed-sitter in a village two hours from Vienna. Christine works as a low-ranking postal official in the town's post office. As the story opens she's in her 20s and merely going through the motions. But her robot-like existence is shattered when she receives a telegram (a big event) from an aunt, her mother's sister, who left Austria before the war and married a rich American businessman. They invite Christine to spend a holiday with them in a Swiss mountain resort. Christine goes grudgingly but is astonished at the life she is exposed too. Her aunt buys her beautiful clothes, feeds her well and all of a sudden Christine is exposed to a life she never knew existed. She takes to it immediately. She relishes her new life and cherishes every minute of it. But no sooner has she found a new life than she is tossed back into the old one. Any despair Christine may have felt before her Swiss trip is now magnified by the fact that she has actually seen how different life can be. She arrives at what she thought was the lowest deep only to discover that there are depths of despair yet to go.

It is at this point that she finds Ferdinand on a day trip to Vienna. For Ferdinand life has been, if anything, more unkind to him than to Christine. Their meeting and their developing relationship takes us through the second half of the book. They know they are soul mates but their existence is such that they each know that love (if you can call their fumbling attempts at personal physical and social intimacy love) is not nearly enough to be of any help to them at all. They face the question posed by Milton in the heading of this review - which way shall they fly? Zweig's resolution is, in this context, perfect.

What Zweig has done so well in my opinion is to use Christine and Ferdinand as a masterful vehicle for looking at Austrian (and Europe generally) society in the aftermath of the Great War. Zweig's characters are well crafted and felt very realistically drawn to me. They were absorbing, warts and all. "The Post-Office Girl" was well worth reading and I'd recommend it to anyone interested in reading a book that lingers with you after you are done. L. Fleisig
26 von 27 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen with the backdrop of 1930's Nazism 24. Mai 2008
Von Remy - Veröffentlicht auf
The Post-Office Girl is fastpaced and hardboiled--as if Zweig, normally the most mannerly of writers, had fortified himself with some stiff shots of Dashiell Hammett. It's the story of Christine, a nice girl from a poor provincial family who gets a taste of the good life only to have it snatched away; and of Ferdinand, an unemployed World War I veteran and ex-POW with whom she then links up. It's a story, you could say, of two essentially respectable middle-class souls who wake up to find themselves miscast as outcasts, but what it's really about, beyond economic and psychological collapse, is social death. Set during the period of devastating hyper-inflation that followed Austria's defeat in 1918, Zweig's novel depicts a country grotesquely divided between the rich and poor, so much so that it has effectively reverted to a state of nature. Christine and Ferdinand and Austria have been hollowed out (even if the country is still decked out in the pomp, circumstance, and pointless bureaucratic regulations of its bygone imperial heyday). They exist in a Hobbesian state of terminal desperation from which--the discovery arrives with mounting horror and excitement--the only hope of escape or redemption lies in violence.

Zweig wrote The Post-Office Girl in the early 1930s, working on it during years that Hitler rose to power and that saw Zweig, as a Jew, forced into exile. He appears to have considered the book finished, and yet he left it untitled and made no effort to publish. Why? My own hunch is that it was just too close to the bone. Zweig was famous all over the world as a writer of fiction and non-fiction and as a public intellectual. He was, you could say, the standard bearer for a certain liberal ideal of civilization, for a way of life that is worldly, compassionate, cultivated, tolerant, sensitive, self-aware, and reflexively touched with irony; the life of, as he considered himself, a man of taste and judgment. In the face of Nazism, such an ideal may have come to seem so much wishful thinking, and certainly Zweig, in exile, found his whole reason for living undercut. This, it seems to me, is the trauma that The Post-Office Girl registers. It accounts for the raw power and relentlessness of the book, for its difference from his other work, and also, I imagine, for Zweig's uneasiness about it. He couldn't put it or the reality it describes in perspective. I don't think that it's an accident that The Post-Office Girl, though finished in the mid-30s, finds Zweig rehearsing a scenario for suicide that clearly anticipates his and his wife's deaths in Brazil in 1942.

Found among Zweig's papers after his death, The Post-Office Girl did not appear in German until 1982, when it was published as Rausch der Verwandlung (a phrase taken from a crucial early episode in the novel, translatable as "the intoxication of metamorphosis"). Zweig's letters refer to his "post-office girl book," and we have chosen to follow this lead. An equally good title, also true to the book, it strikes me now, would have been "State of Shock."

--the new york review of books.
30 von 33 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Capitalism with the gloves off 8. Juni 2008
Von Jeff Abell - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
While Stefan Zweig's greatness as a writer has never diminished in Europe, he is much less known than he should be in the US. His novels as insightful, psychologically penetrating, and often charged with emotion. The characters in Zweig's fiction are often in a state of crisis: honorable people who have blundered into an impossible situation (or been thrust there by the forces of society). Zweig's ability to see deeply into the workings of the human psyche shouldn't be too surprising: he was, after all, a close personal friend of Sigmund Freud. "The Post-Office Girl" (a remarkably prosaic title for a book Zweig called "Intoxication of Transformation") is a late work, and remarkably bitter. Zweig often wrote about the impact of World War I on European culture, and in this work we get a male and female perspective on the hideous poverty that occurred in Austria after the War. Both of the main characters have been screwed by life. Christine lost her father and brother during the war, and ends up in a dead-end job, taking care of her ailing mother. She doesn't seem to realize how miserable her life is until a wealthy aunt offers her a vacation in Switzerland, and she sees what she's been missing. Returning to her drudgery, she's furious with the inequality of life, and when she meets Ferdinand, an equally angry veteran who has been struggling to get by since returning from a prison camp in Siberia, the two form an instant connection. Zweig uses Christine and especially Ferdinand to provide himself with a voice to lay bare the horrors of war, and the crushing burden that economic inequality creates. The self-absorbed, wealthy people Christine encounters on her vacation are played in high contrast to her petty bourgeois brother-in-law. It's hard to say which is more memorable: Zweig's depiction of the lavish splendor of Christine's vacation, or his gritty, realistic descriptions of the cheap cafes and flea-bag hotels where Christine and Ferdinand spend their time. What he does document brilliantly is the Austrian mindset of embitterment after World War I. After all, it was from that mindset that Adolph Hitler would rise to power, on a message of hope for working class people to again rise up out of their depths.
11 von 13 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Now on my list of favorite books 13. Juli 2008
Von sb-lynn - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
I only review a fraction of the number of books I read, so I don't give this compliment lightly.

Summary, no spoilers:

Let me start off by saying that it is difficult to give a good review of this book without slight spoilers - but I will do my best and try to still give a flavor of what makes this such a memorable read.

This *gorgeously* written novel starts off with a brilliant description of a desolate country post office in Austria, in 1926. Working in this depressing bureaucratic hell, is a 28 year old woman named Christine, who has been beaten down by poverty, dullness and tedium in her life.

Christine had a much different childhood; her family had substantial means and lived comfortably, and she grew up a happy and content child. But all changed with the Great War, and they, like so many other Europeans, lost everything. All that remains to Christine is her job with the post office, and taking care of her sick mother in a depressing and decrepit attic room.

She is devoid of hope, and that is part of the key to this fantastic story.

While toiling at the post office, Christine gets a telegraph message from her aunt in America - a woman she's never met. The wealthy aunt offers her a vacation at an expensive and elegant Alpine resort. Christine immediately runs to her mother to find out if this is real, and her mother explains that it is, and that her sister (the aunt) wanted her to go, but that she couldn't because she couldn't travel and that she should take Christine.

Christine, utterly flummoxed by the thought of any change in the dull routine of her life, packs her small straw suitcase, and takes a train to meet her aunt.

The description of Christine's arrival at the hotel are priceless and brilliant. Christine is overwhelmed by the beauty and by the elegance of everything, and she is like Cinderella at the ball. Her aunt (and uncle) are good to her, and dress her in beautiful clothing and have her hair cut in the latest elegant fashion, and have her face made-up. The scene reminded me of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz movie - being primped and taken care of from every angle.

Christine is so excited, and so astounded at her ability to feel anything but sadness and tedium, that she cannot sleep for the first night. She feels like her eyes have been opened to the beauty of the world, and she wants to take it all in.

This is all from Part One, of this two part novel. If you want absolutely no spoilers, don't read on (and don't read the back cover of the novel) - although I recommend that you do and that it won't take away from your enjoyment of this novel. For me, knowing a little bit in advance only enhanced my reading experience.

Part Two is a far different story, although it takes place immediately afterwards. Christine, like Cinderella, has been returned to the hovel, but now it all becomes unbearable because she has experienced and seen the other side.

Christine befriends a man named Ferdinand, a bitter war veteran, who shares her world-view and despondency. They try to see each other and have a relationship, but this is not easy in post-war Austria, when one doesn't have any money or means. But they make plans...

There are so many things to love about this book - number one being that it's just so beautifully written. There are paragraphs that I read over and over again, just because of Zweig's ability to string words together to get across a feeling or an idea or a description are just so perfect. And yet this is a translation, to boot! It makes me want to learn German, just so I could read this in its native language.

Secondly, this is an astute novel about what it's like to live without hope, and what happens when someone who has nothing is given this chance to see what the good life is like, and then have it taken away from them. Is it better not to have been given this chance at all?

Needless to say, this novel is highly recommended. I also highly recommend another NYRB Classic release, "Beware of Pity", Zweig's first novel released under this label. He is fast becoming my favorite author, and I hope that all of his books and stories become available in English. Sadly, he and his wife committed suicide in 1942 in Brazil, haunted by what was happening in his native Austria and Germany.
7 von 8 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Poor girl's dreams? 17. August 2010
Von Friederike Knabe - Veröffentlicht auf
(4.5 stars) Stefan Zweig's Post-Office Girl, published posthumously in 1982 in German under the title "Rausch der Verwandlung" and in the New York Review Book Classic series in 2008, is an unfinished novel fragment in two parts that the author worked on in the early nineteen thirties and, apparently, did not return to before his untimely death by suicide in 1942 in Brazil. The first part, taken from Zweig's original material, tells the story, set in 1926, of an Austrian young woman, Christine, who supports herself and her ailing mother with a lowly position in a village post-office. Out of the blue she is invited by her US-based wealthy aunt to spend a holiday in a glamorous hotel in Switzerland. The second part (edited by the German publisher for the 1982 publication) follows Christine's life following this special vacation. While the two sections differ in style and approach considerably, it is not clear how much these differences are reflecting Zweig's own changing position regarding the political environment at the time, or changes as interpreted by his publishers later, using Zweig's various notes.

For me, the two parts don't quite come together as an integrated novel. The first part, easily understood as a Cinderella story, has great depth in terms of character development and in the depiction of the social conditions, the class society and its habits. etc. of the time. Christine is not only described from the outside as the fast-learning poor girl turning socialite in record breaking speed, Zweig gets into her mind and her emotional state during these changes with great sensitivity. He shows a wonderful sense of satire and humour when describing the various characters that surround Christine. The reader will not be surprised when the Cinderella dream comes to an end - how that happens, however, is quite surprising.

The second part returns Christine into a reality to which she can no longer adjust. Zweig's portrayal of Viennese and Austrian small-town society in the inter-war years is harsh as it is realistic. Poverty is ever present and the possibilities to escape from it, or even to move one or two steps up the social ladder are difficult if not impossible to realize. Those further up the social classes have little sympathy for those struggling; the State is an anonymous unsympathetic entity, even for war veterans. For some, like Christine's newfound friend Ferdinand, dramatic desperate actions may be seen as the only the hope left. How will Christine combine her life with any new ambitions? Personally, I found the second part less convincing, the story, especially the concluding section too drawn out. Despite some scepticism, Zweig's novel is an important document for the time period. Unfortunately, in contrast to other NYRB books, there is no introduction to the novel and the context in which it was written. This would have been helpful, not only to readers coming new to Zweig and his work. [Friederike Knabe]
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