Austrian writer Stefan Zweig, was born in Vienna on November 28, 1881, and committed suicide in Petrópolis, Brazil, on February 22, 1942. Born in a wealthy Jewish family, Zweig enjoyed a privileged childhood. He grew up in an open-minded and multilingual home—a background that undoubtedly played a role in his subsequent commitment to humanist and supranationalist thought.
While young he became a celebrated author, traveled widely, and developed friendships with a host of literary figures, among them the French novelist and playwright Romain Rolland and the Belgian poet Emile Verhaeren, whose work he translated. Zweig's best-know works include the novels Amok (1922), Beware of Pity (1938), and Conflicts (1926), a collection that includes the novella Twenty-four Hours in the Life of a Woman. His autobiography, The World of Yesterday, appeared posthumously in 1943.
Zweig's work, at once distinguished by its richness and diversity, includes poetry, plays, essays, short stories, novels, and biographies. He was one of the most prolific authors of his time and played a major role in creating a rapprochement between French and German literature.
Freud recognized in Zweig an interest in, and aptitude for, psychological analysis. Although they argued several times—over errors Zweig made in translating Freud's work and concerning Zweig's appreciation of such detractors as Charles E. Maylan—Freud valued Zweig's friendship until the end of his life.
After the Nazis prohibited and destroyed his books in 1933, Zweig immigrated to London in 1934. Together with Salvador Dali, he visited Freud on July 19, 1938. Since Freud was near death, Zweig did not dare to show him the two sketches that Dali had made of him. In his last letter to Freud, dated September, 14, 1939, nine days before Freud's death, he wrote, "I hope that you are suffering only from the era, as we all do, and not also from physical pain. We must stand firm now—it would be absurd to die without having first seen the criminals sent to hell."
After obtaining British citizenship in 1940, Zweig settled in Petrópolis, Brazil, in 1941. He became a symbol of the anguish of exile and the refusal to accept Hitler's early triumphs. Despite this, in profound despair after Nazi victories early in the war, he committed suicide together with his second wife, Lotte Altmann.
In his final declaration Zweig wrote, "It seems to me therefore better to put an end, in good time and without humiliation, to a life in which intellectual work has always been an unmixed joy and personal freedom earth's most precious possession." "I greet all my friends! May they live to see the dawn after the long night is over! I, all too impatient, am going on alone" (Allday, 1972, p. 238)