China's Stefan ZweigThe Dynamics of Cross-Cultural Reception

China's Stefan ZweigThe Dynamics of Cross-Cultural Reception

Arnhilt Johanna Hoefle

Print publication date: 2018

ISBN: 9780824872083

Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press


How can one author be among the most bitterly rejected writers in one cultural context, while being one of the most celebrated in another? For decades, the works of the Austrian-Jewish writer Stefan Zweig (1881-1942) have been fiercely attacked by critics and scholars in Europe and North America who questioned their literary value and naïve Habsburg nostalgia. Yet in other parts of the world, such as in China, Zweig’s works have enjoyed not only continued admiration but also truly exceptional influence, popularity, and even canonical status. China’s Stefan Zweig unveils the extraordinary success story of Zweig’s novellas in China, from the first translations in the 1920s, shortly after the collapse of the Chinese Empire, through the Mao era to the contemporary People’s Republic. Extensive research in China has unearthed a wealth of hitherto unexplored Chinese-language sources which evidence that Zweig has been read in an entirely different way there. Traversing a truly global system of cultural transfer and several intermediary spaces, Zweig’s works have been selected and employed for very different literary and ideological purposes throughout turbulent times in China. Declared to be a powerful critic of bourgeois society, the Chinese way of reading Zweig reveals important new perspectives on one of the most successful and, at the same time, most misunderstood European writers of the twentieth century.