World of Yesterday
* Book: The World of Yesterday. By Stefan Zweig.
(I read this book during October 2003)
The author, an Austrian Jew from the high bourgeoisie in Vienna, starts an account of Europe before WWI, written in 1895. It describes a Europe that is already several decades at peace, and where the cultural elite feels European, travelling freely without passports, from one capital to another, confident in progress. Sure, there are problems: the sexual hypocrisy of bourgeois education, the situation of the workers, etc... but all are in the process of being solved, so is the feeling. The war of 1914-18, which nobody really had seen coming, comes as a shock, and rapidly transforms the popular majority into nationalist hysterics. The war is a senseless butchery, ending in the inequitable peace of Versailles, and leaves Germany disclocated and humiliated, causing deep distrust towards the authorities. It is a marvelous book from a true cosmopolitan humanist, and I learned many things about the history of the period.