The second son of a wealthy industrialist, Stefan Zweig had an early and auspicious start in literature in what he later described as a “world of security,” taking “flight into the intellectual” from his father’s stultifying business mentality and his mother’s overbearing snobbishness. Having an essay accepted by Theodor Herzl, the influential editor of the prestigious Vienna daily Neue Freie Presse, was an important boost to the career of the fledgling writer, who soon became an outstanding member of the literary group Jung Wien (Young Vienna). His first book was published when he was still in his teens.
In 1904, Zweig earned a doctorate from the University of Vienna with a dissertation on Hippolyte Taine. Early trips to Germany, France, Belgium, Holland, England, Italy, Spain, India, and North America served to broaden the horizon of the young man, but what most decisively shaped Zweig’s evolution from an aesthetically oriented man of letters to a “great European” was his encounter with the Flemish poet Émile Verhaeren. Zweig regarded Verhaeren’s intense, vibrantly contemporary, and life-affirming poetry as a lyrical encyclopedia of his age. Zweig tirelessly served Verhaeren as a translator, biographer, and publicist. Zweig’s European education was continued through his friendship with the French writer Romain Rolland, whose exemplary pacifist and humanist activities in wartime were a great inspiration to Zweig....
(The entire section is 508 words.)