By Stefan Zweig
Translated by Anthea Bell
Introduction by George Prochnik
“Confusion is one of his finest and most exemplary works . . . a marvelously poised account of misunderstood motives, thwarted love, and sublimated desires . . . a perfect reminder of, or introduction to, Zweig’s economy and subtlety as a writer.”—Robert Macfarlane, The Times Literary Supplement
“Confusion, which I recently devoured at a sitting, is in essence a simple story. An elderly academic looks back on the most intense and formative relationship of his life."—Harry Eyres, Financial Times
Stefan Zweig was particularly drawn to the novella, and Confusion, a rigorous and yet transporting dramatization of the conflict between the heart and the mind, is among his supreme achievements in the form.
A young man who is rapidly going to the dogs in Berlin is packed off by his father to a university in a sleepy provincial town. There, a brilliant lecture awakens in him: a wild passion for learning—as well as a peculiarly intense fascination with the graying professor who gave the talk. The student grows close to the professor, becoming a regular visitor to the apartment he shares with his much younger wife. He takes it upon himself to urge his teacher to finish the great work of scholarship that he has been laboring at for years and even offers to help him in any way he can. The professor welcomes the young man’s attentions, at least on some days. On others, he rages without apparent reason or turns away from his disciple with cold scorn. The young man is baffled, wounded. He cannot understand.
But the wife understands. She understands perfectly. And one way or another she will help him to understand too.
NYRB Classics, 2012
Originally published in English in 1927
5 x 0.5 x 8 inches