Used; Like New/Used; Like New. An important collection of letters from the Austrian writerÂ who became one of the most highly regarded men of letters writing in German between the wars, to fellow writer and European exile Felix Wittmer. Dated from 1930 to 1933 in Salzburg and from 1934 to 1937 in London, the letters are composed in a kind and encouraging tone, providing the younger writer with suggestions from improving and marketing his poetry and plays, some of the letters addressing finer literary points, and others offering material advice and offers of connections in the field. The letters have been translated from German into English, apparently by Wittmer at the time of their original sale in 1978, and his typed translations accompany the letters, some with additional commentary in English from Wittmer. Of nine original letters (numbered in pencil at the head of each), seven are present in the original, each hand signed by Zweig. Letters number 1 and 4 are lacking in the original, but supplied in facsimile. Â Also present is a letter from Wittmer to the original purchaser (March 5, 1978), as well as a later reprint sepia photograph of Zweig.Zweig, a novelist, playwright, journalist and biographer, made his name in the inter-war period as the author of novels and biographies. After the rise of the Nazi party, his Jewish background meant that his work was banned and his books burned in the Third Reich. He fled Austria for London in 1934 and continued westwards to the United States and then to Brazil with his second wife in 1940. In desperation over the horrors continuing in Europe, the two committed suicide together in 1942.Â Zweig wasÂ also a prolific autograph collector and his massive collection of musical and literary manuscripts resides at the British Library.Felix Wittmer, Zweig's correspondent, was also a European exile and the author of several books on history, and apparently also of poetry and plays. He worked as a college professor in the United States in 1927-1928 and edited an American edition of Zweig'sÂ Sternstunden der MenschheitÂ (published in 1931). Returning to Germany in 1932, he opposed Hitler publicly and was then forced to flee to Paris and then Spain, before returning to the U.S. in 1934. As an academic in America in the 1950's, heÂ published several critiques of communism in academic life (Conquest of the American Mind: Comments on Collectivism in Education,Â 1956), as well as a book attacking Franklin Roosevelt (The Yalta Betrayal, 1953). He seems to be remembered mostly as a reactionary professor of history, and indeed his comments on the translations of Zweig's letters, as well as his own exceedingly strange letter to James Lowe, indicate that he was indeed a very colorful and perhaps difficult character.In the first letter of the collection [no. 1, 2 pp., Oct. 15, 1930], present only in facsimile, Zweig refers Wittmer to two publications on poet Hans Carossa, and goes on to praise and gently critique Wittmer's poems, which "brought me great joy with their lively color. Â Perhaps the only other thing I would have wished for would be a certain movement in the rhythm...please believe me to be very sincere when I repeat that IÂ find your verses, with their metallic construction, very worthwhile, and am certainly convinced that they will have great success when they are printed." Â A month later, Zweig writes again [no. 2, 1 p., Nov. 17, 1930], saying apologetically that he would like to help Wittmer get his poems published by a good publisher, but "the very word 'poems' nowadays frightens them away," and suggests that Wittmer might himself pay for their printing. He encloses another letter [no.3, 2 pp., undated] which he invites Wittmer to use or send to a magazine, explaining and defending the possible historical inaccuracies in his depiction of John Sutter, the Swiss pioneer of the California Gold Rush, in hisÂ Sternstunden der Menschheit.Â A short note [no. 4, 1 p., June 6, 1931], present only in facsimile and translation, thanks Wittmer for sending "two reviews which I enjoyed reading." Zweig mentions, "I am working on a novel, but it will take time before it's completed and ready for the printer," and adds in a hand-written postscript that he has not yet received a copy of Wittmer's American edition ofÂ Sternstunden. Â The final letter from Salzburg [no. 5, 1 p., September 11, 1933] expresses Zweig's "sincere but deeply shaken feelings" towards Wittmer, who had been "caught up in this calamity" as the Nazis rose to power. Zweig writes that he would like to help Wittmer find work in Paris, but that "abstract recommendations are without value... I am unhappy I can't even counsel you as to what to do..." He continues, "...the immense blow has hit me only inwardly, and has lamed the will to write." Â Writing from London in the next letter [no. 6, 2 pp., April 27, 1934], Zweig (now busy even in exile with social engagements and "reading the proofs of my biography of Erasmus") compliments Wittmer's "beautiful theater play: I liked it very much. It is effective without being sentimental." Â He suggests inserting some songs: "In this way you'd add color and release tension into the sinister ending." A long and somewhat incoherent commentary from Wittmer follows the translation, commenting on Zweig ("this marvelous gentleman") that "He said he had refrained from criticizing the Nazis because eventually all the good Germans he had known would have to suffer for it" and asserting that publishers refuse to accept his works: "I'm on the blacklist to which the Communists, the Radicals of the Right, certain religious fanatics, and assorted Puritans have contributed. My books offer startling revelations; but our make-believe society insists on keeping the old lies alive." Wittmer concludes, "When "they" (the publishers) finally get to my manuscripts, your successor can sell these remarks also." Â In a short note a month later [no. 7, 1 p., May 23, 1934], Zweig advises Wittmer to send his play to an agency in Paris: "...simply refer to me. If these gentlemen do not also work for the theatre, they will doubtless send you to the right people." Another short letter from London [no. 8, 1 p., Oct. 22, 1934] mentions that the two men will meet the next year in America, and that Zweig has made some contacts in regards to publishing a novel of Wittmer's, but "the foreign publishers' market in this field is limited." Zweig's last letter to Witmmer [no. 9, 2 pp., May 31, 1937] heaps compliments on his latest book,Â Flood-Light on Europe:Â "I do not recall any political book which exposes in such shattering and exciting manner the contrast between words and deeds, propagandistic lies and the bloody truth." Always cordial, Zweig offers to help if he can to get the book published in England.The accompanying letter from Wittmer to autograph dealer James Lowe [no. 10, 1 p., March 5, 1978] provides a glimpse into Wittmer's rather strange and paranoid mind as an older man, and offers Lowe: "If you care to know the incredible things which occurred to me in the past forty-three years, which takes some time, choose a date for the appointment. I do not mind if you ask friends to hear it." Â A sepia toned reprint photograph of Zweig, mounted on card, is included. In fine condition, 12.7 x 17.2 cm.The letters are typed with some autograph corrections, signed in purple and blue pen or pencil. Those from Salzburg are typed on Zweig's monogrammed letterhead with the address of his grand villa, Kapuzinerberg 5. Those from London have the addresses 11 Portland Place (1934) and 49 Hallam Street (1937).Â Light age wear with mailing folds and light toning; overall in fine condition. Â Complete translations of the letters are available on request.Â
(Inventory #: 10781)
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