A French country estate, and a dive bar in the sailors district of a German port provide the backdrop for these two exquisite stories
‘Twilight’ is the story of a fashionable lady who is banished from Versailles by the king. She tries to make the best of living on her country estate, but although she entertains lovers and friends from Paris, she comes to find it intolerable. Life at court, for all its essential emptiness, was the only thing that gave her existence meaning, and she moves inexorably towards suicide. In ‘Moonbeam Alley’, a traveller delayed in a French port explores the sailors’ quarter. Enticed by a voice singing an aria, to a bar near the harbour, he learns the story of those who run it and frequent it: a tale of violence, unrequited passion, and a marriage that is no true marriage.
Stefan Zweig (1881-1942) was born in Vienna, into a wealthy Austrian-Jewish family. He studied in Berlin and Vienna and was first known as a poet and translator, then as a biographer. Zweig travelled widely, living in Salzburg between the wars, and was an international bestseller with a string of hugely popular novellas including Letter from an Unknown Woman, Amok and Fear.
In 1934, with the rise of Nazism, he moved to London, where he wrote his only novel Beware of Pity. He later moved on to Bath, taking British citizenship after the outbreak of the Second World War. With the fall of France in 1940 Zweig left Britain for New York, before settling in Brazil, where in 1942 he and his wife were found dead in an apparent double suicide.
Much of his work is available from Pushkin Press.