Arnold Zweig Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Arnold Zweig (tsvihk) was born into a Jewish middle-class family in 1887. His father, Adolf Zweig, was a saddler and grocer; his mother was Bianca von Spandow. He was educated at the technical school in Kattowitz, Upper Silesia, and then at several German universities, including Breslau, Munich, Berlin, Göttingen, Rostock, and Tübingen, where he studied philosophy and languages and developed an interest in psychology, history, and the arts.

Arnold Zweig had planned to be a teacher, but during his education he began to devote considerable time to writing; his earliest short stories date from 1909. His first novel, a series of episodes unified by a central character, Claudia, appeared in 1912. Traces of his careful, ironic style are apparent in that early work, an experimental book in which he portrayed the sufferings and growth of a sensitive, upper-class woman as she strives, while married to a shy professor, to free herself from her inhibitions and release her natural forces. Zweig’s interest in the psychology of the individual continued to govern most of his work.

During World War I he was a private in a labor battalion in France and Serbia, and from 1917 to the armistice he worked in the press section of the German army at the eastern front. He had already attracted some attention with his short stories and plays. Abigail und Nabal was presented in 1913, and Ritualmord in Ungarn, written in 1914; it was revised and...

(The entire section is 573 words.)


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Arnold Zweig, the eldest of Adolf and Bianca van Spandow Zweig’s three children, experienced anti-Semitism early in his life. Nine years after his birth on November 10, 1887, Zweig’s family, prosperous grocers who supplied members of the military with food, was abruptly robbed of its livelihood when the Prussian ministry of war forebade Jews from supplying food to the military.

Stripped of their means of making a living, the Zweigs moved to Kattowitz (now Katowice, Poland) in 1896. So strained were their finances that nine-year-old Arnold went to work in a bookstore. He completed his secondary education in 1907, then pursued studies in literature, languages, art, and philosophy at universities in Breslau (1907-1908), Munich (1908-1909 and 1913-1914), Berlin (1909-1911), Göttingen (1911-1912), and Rostock (1912-1913). German students frequently moved from university to university, studying with the professors who most interested them.

Zweig, who planned to teach modern languages, began a doctoral dissertation on Paul Jakob Rudnick but abandoned it. He published his first major fiction, Aufzeichnungen über eine Familie Klopfer (notes about the Klopfer family) in 1911 and followed it with Claudia, which enjoyed considerable success.

His first drama, Ritualmord in Ungarn, a tragedy written in 1912 and published in 1914, was banned by the censors, although it brought Zweig the Kleist Prize in 1915. Zweig...

(The entire section is 549 words.)