The World Of Yesterday PDF By Stefan Zweig

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The World Of Yesterday

Still und eng und nahig auferzogen Wirfi man uns auf einmal in die Welt; Uus spillen hunderttausend Wogen Alles redz uns.

Muncherlei gefalle Mancherlei verdrieur en and vent Stund 2 Stunden Schenker das leichnamige Gefahl: Wir empfinden, und was wir empfunden Spillt hinweg das bunte Weltgewithl.

WHEN I attempt to find a simple formula for the period in which I grew up, prior to the First World War, I hope that I convey its fulness by calling it the Golden Age of Security.

Everything in our almost thousand-year-old Austrian monarchy seemed based on permanency, and the State itself was the chief guarantor of this stability.

The rights which it granted to its citizens were duly confirmed by parliament, the freely elected representative of the people, and every duty was exactly prescribed.

Our currency, the Austrian crown, circulated in bright gold pieces, an assurance of its immutability.

Everyone knew how much he possessed or what he was entitled to, what was permitted and what was forbidden. Everything had its norm, its definite measure, and weight.

He who had a fortune could accurately compute his annual interest. An official or an officer, for example, could confidently look up in the calendar the year when he would be advanced in rank.

When he would be pensioned. Each family had its fixed budget and knew how much could be spent for rent and food, for holidays and entertainment.

And what is more, invariably a small sum was carefully laid aside for sickness and the doctor’s bills, for the unexpected.

Whoever owned a house looked upon it as a secure domicile for his children and grandchildren; estates and businesses were handed down from generation to generation.

When the babe was still in its cradle, its first mite was put in its little bank, or deposited in the savings bank, as a “reserve” for the future.

Today, now that the great storm has long since smashed it, we finally know that that world of security was naught but a castle of dreams ; my parents lived in it as if it had been a house of stone.

Not once did a storm, or even a sharp wind, break in upon their warm, comfortable existence.

True, they had a special protection against the winds of time : they were wealthy people, who had become rich gradually, even very rich, and that filled the crevices of wall and window in those times.

Their way of life seems to me to be so typical of the so-called “good Jewish bourgeoisie,” winch gave such marked value to Viennese culture, and which was requited by being completely uprooted, that in telling of their quiet and comfortable existence I am actually being quite impersonal : ten or twenty thousand families like my parents Hved in Vienna in that last century of assured values.

My father’s family came from Moravia.

There the Jewish communities Hved in small country villages on friendly terms with the peasants and the petty bourgeoisie.

They were entirely free both of the sense of inferiority and of the smooth pusliing impatience of the GaHcian or Eastern Jews.

Strong and powerful, owing to their life in the country, they went their way quietly and surely, as the peasants of their homeland strode over the fields.

Early emancipated from their orthodox rehgion, they were passionate followers of the rehgion of the time, “progress,” and in the poHtical era of Hbcralism they supported the most esteemed representatives in parHament.

When they moved from their home to Vienna, they adapted tlicmselves to the higher cultural sphere widi phenomenal rapidity, and their personal rise was organically bound up with the general rise of the times.

In this form of transition, too, our family was typical.

AuthorStefan Zweig
PDF Size38.3 MB


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