The Stefan Zweig Conundrum
The 130th anniversary of Stefan Zweig’s birthday in 2011 triggered the latest “rediscovery” of the Austrian writer in Europe and North America, manifesting itself in various new editions and translations, exhibitions, graphic novels, radio plays, and movies inspired by his life and work, such as Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel or Maria Schrader’s Vor der Morgenröte. At the same heated debates about the writer’s literary merit flared up again. This introduction provides an overview of the international reception history of Zweig, whose works have been translated into more than sixty languages since the 1920s, while causing relentless aversion and controversy among scholars and critics. This chapter also explains why the Chinese reception with its wealth of unexplored material spanning almost the whole twentieth century serves as the ideal case study not only to re-read Zweig’s work but also to rethink our understanding of cross-cultural literary connections as complex “global systems of cultural transfer.”
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