Separated for nine years by the First World War Ludwig has finally returned home to meet the woman he so passionately loved, and who had promised to wait for him. But circumstances have changed ... Confronted with an uncertain future, and still haunted by the past, together they will discover whether their love has survived hardships, betrayals, and the lapse of time. Zweig's long-lost final novella-recently discovered in manuscript form-is a poignant examination of the angst of nostalgia and the fragility of love.
A focused new translation of the late Zweig's (1881 1942) gorgeous and sad novella spotlights the hopeless passion between a young man and his employer's wife. Ludwig, an ambitious young man from an impoverished background, finds employment with a famous industrialist in Frankfurt-am-Main and is eventually pressed into service as the industrialist's private secretary, living in his house, where he befriends his boss's radiant, sympathetic wife and finds in her an artistic kinship. A passion develops, cut short by the exigencies of the metals business, then by the eruption of WWI, and the two, despite the intervening years and Ludwig's own marriage, eventually embark on an overnight trip together. Moving back and forth through time, Zweig pursues the couple to their destination, where they are confronted by a military demonstration that bludgeons their fragile memories with the cold, crass present. Bell's faultless translation easily conveys the smoldering engine of Zweig's writhing inner consciousness.