In Stefan Zweig, a Jewish aristocrat in the heart of Europe, of 1999, a title that in the Spanish version was modified to emphasize one of the works by the Austrian until he was named Zweig and the chandelier. Fate and Judaism (Alrevés, 2012), Jean-Jacques Lafaye studied the Jewish condition as an irredeemable destiny: that of so many who were forced into exile or suffered Nazi persecution.
Judaism, in his case, would constitute a moral beacon that will influence his critical vision of the tragic events since 1914 to, in this way, develop a militant pacifism and lean towards an idealized diverse, plural and free society.
The referred title alluded to The buried chandelier , about the theft of the seven-branched candelabrum from the Temple of Solomon in the midst of the fall of Rome, and in it the years of youth and maturity of the Austrian author were covered to the beat of what it meant to be a Jew for him: “A spiritual opening, the conquest of freedom”, first, until in the end, in Brazil, he believes “to find his new Jerusalem, the future and the promised land”, explained Lafaye. And it is that Zionism – the political movement that wanted to reestablish a homeland for the Jews on Israeli land and that would propel the modern State of Israel – was always present in his consciousness, as he himself said in an interview in 1937.
On that occasion, Zweig stated that politics had never been so immoral and unethical, even that living no longer excited him, so all he had to do was take refuge in work. And sometimes his job was to make fictions that seemed evasive but delved into his present time. J. Rafael Hernández Arias rightly says that, thanks to these legends, “We can penetrate the ins and outs of his personality, see what events affected him the most, what were his obsessions, and how he struggled to resolve the paradoxes and contradictions that gripped his soul.”
⁄ His trip to India in 1908-1909 and the reading of the ‘Bhagavadgita’ inspired him ‘The eyes of the eternal brother’
According to the translator, when reading these pages, we are witnessing Zweig’s search for the meaning of life, and this certainly matches a narrative genre of fantastic events that is transmitted by tradition, dictionary in hand, or that is based on events or characters. real to sometimes send a moralizing message.
Indeed, Zweig subtitled the best of these works with the word “legend”: The eyes of the eternal brother (1921), which inspired his trip to India in 1908-1909 and his reading of the Hindu poem Bhagavadgita.
Set long before the time of the Buddha, it tells the story of a virtuous judge, Virata, who after experiencing the fate that awaits the most heinous criminals, enjoys a kind of brotherly enlightenment. In this regard, we remember with great pleasure the theatrical adaptation that Oriol Broggi made of this story, in 2002, for the Sala Beckett in Barcelona, The ulls of the eternal germà with the actors Bruno Oro, Óscar Muñoz and Marc Serra.
For Hernández Arias, the legends helped Zweig “to elucidate his own attitude towards violence and the Western world”, both in the aforementioned story and in The buried chandelier , from 1936, at a time when the National Socialists had already singled out Jewish authors. He always considered himself a European who felt good in the diaspora, but he did not contemplate the need to create an exclusive homeland for the Jews, as Theodor Herzl or Martin Buber suggested.
⁄ He considered himself a European who felt good in the Diaspora, and did not believe that an exclusive homeland for Jews was necessary
In another of the legends, Rachel argues with God (1927), we will see a biblical treatment from Jacob’s encounter with Rachel, in Genesis; With this, they want to talk about why the divinity is obliged to show mercy and move away from vengeful behaviors. Finally, the book is completed with two texts: the very brief The legend of the third dove (1916), which can clearly be read in a pacifist key, against the Great War, and which recovers the story of Noah sending three birds from the ark as a message, “when the floodgates of heaven were closed and the waters of the abyss”; and with The same and different sisters (1927), about two dissatisfied twins with respect to their mother’s low birth who would symbolically, legendarily, represent reason and passion.
Stefan Zweig legends. Harp. trad. J. Rafael Hernandez Arias
224 pages. €19.90