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Ostend: Stefan Zweig, Joseph Roth, and the Summer Before the Dark

Ostend: Stefan Zweig, Joseph Roth, and the Summer Before the Dark

By Volker Weidermann
Translated from German by Carol Brown Janeway

“Intimate. . . . Weidermann gives us a glimpse of what was, to many of these writers, a brief but rare home.”—Claire Hazelton, The Guardian

“Potent and melancholy. . . . Weidermann has combed letters, books, diaries, and reminiscences and used them to tell his sad tale as if it were a novel."—Michael Prodger, The Times, London

“Dazzling. . . . Graceful. For such a slim book to convey with such poignancy the extinction of a generation of ‘Great Europeans’ is a triumph.”—The Sunday Telegraph

“Beautifully translated by Carol Brown Janeway . . . a short but vital calm-before-the-storm history, one that shines a valuable light on two of the 20th century’s finest writers . . . rich in insight and empathy. This is a sparkling gem.”—Malcolm Forbes, Minneapolis Star-Tribune

It’s the summer of 1936, and the writer Stefan Zweig is in crisis. His German publisher no longer wants him, his marriage is collapsing, and his house in Austria—searched by the police two years earlier—no longer feels like home. He’s been dreaming of Ostend, the Belgian beach town that is a paradise of promenades, parasols, and old friends. So he journeys there with his lover, Lotte Altmann, and reunites with fellow writer and semi-estranged close friend Joseph Roth, who is himself about to fall in love. For a moment, they create a fragile haven. But as Europe begins to crumble around them, the writers find themselves trapped on vacation, in exile, watching the world burn. In Ostend, Volker Weidermann lyrically recounts “the summer before the dark,” when a coterie of artists, intellectuals, drunks, revolutionaries, and madmen found themselves in limbo while Europe teetered on the edge of fascism and total war.

Ostend is the true story of two of the twentieth century’s great writers, written with a novelist’s eye for pacing, chronology, and language—a dazzling work of historical nonfiction.

Hardcover
164 pages
Pantheon, 2016
5.4 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
ISBN 9781101870266
Literature, Biography, European History

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