Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Thursday 16 May 2013

Fear - Stefan Zweig

Translated from the German by Anthea Bell

'...her fear was waiting, impatient to take her in its grasp...'

This novella of less than a hundred pages was written almost a century ago by Stefan Zweig yet the themes of love and affairs, the search for excitement and passion, the guilt and the fear of discovery of infidelities are eternal ones that are just as relevant today. As the narrative commences, we meet Irene Wagner as she leaves the home of her lover, a young pianist, to return to her easy, comfortable bourgeois life, home and family. However, as she endeavours to overcome the fear that hits her upon leaving his arms, she is horrified to encounter his former mistress, who proceeds to blackmail her.

Zweig makes such accurate observations about human behaviour and relationships, and in particular here, such striking insights into a woman’s thoughts and emotions. It’s a beautifully written, intelligent and deeply insightful study of a woman seeking something beyond her bourgeois married life, and this English translation is excellent and a pleasure to read. I'm so glad that Zweig's works are available to a wider audience now. 

Published by Pushkin Press

originally reviewed for newbooks magazine


  1. A great novel and even better in that I really didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did.

    1. I'm really glad you liked it too, and that it surpassed your expectations.

  2. Lindsay,
    Thank you for visiting my blog and posting a comment, because without your post, I would never have discovered your blog, which I'm enjoying immensely.

    First off, what a beautiful Old English Sheepdog you have! I'm a dog nut, and usually greet people's dogs before I say hello to their owners, so you'll have to excuse me. I have a golden retriever named Sasha. She is a retired show dog who never made the grade as a breeding candidate, so we and she are very glad that her breeder sold her to us. Her problem: She lacked "oomph" in the show ring.

    I'm always on the lookout for works by German authors, so I do hope to look up this one.

    Judith (Reader in the Wilderness)

    1. Hi Judith, thank you for visiting back and for your lovely and very kind comment. Sending a pat for Sasha!

  3. This sounds like a really interesting read. I'm enjoying works in translation at the moment so I'll have to check it out.

  4. I have read a lot of Zweig as he is a favourite of my parents and it was one of the first authors for adult they gave me to read. I'm not sure I've read this novella though.
    If you liked it, I'm sure you will like his other works as well.

    1. Thanks for commenting, I have enjoyed a few of his works now, though still more for me to read.


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