Stephan Zweig, Rhetoric of a Victim; Essays on his life and literary works (MA thesis)

On the 22nd of February 1942, in Petropolis in Brazil, Stephan Zweig decided to die. It was a well calculated death. The fall of Singapore to the hands of the Axis powers may have caused the practical decision, but the idea of suicide as a fine dramatic ending - not only to his novels but to his own life, accompanied Zweig from the beginning of his literary career.

Zweig was a determinist and a pessimist. In his works man is given a choice between two possibilities only: to kill his emotional life and live, or to live his emotional life and die. Whether he wrote a short story, a novel, a play or a biography, underneath it all Zweig told the same story over and over again - the story of a man or a woman who decides to live passionately, because only this kind of life is worthy of living. And since embracing passion as a totality is not possible in our rational bourgeois world, Zweig's hero is crucified - like a martyr - on the altar of his own obsession.