Composers in Austria have achieved worldwide fame through the universal language of music. Authors have always faced a bigger challenge, given most of the world’s readers do not speak German.
We have our notable exceptions, though. One is Stefan Zweig, the subject of an exhibition at the Literature Museum.
- Explores Zweig’s global journey and appeal
- Features original manuscripts, letters, photos, media clips and more
- Runs Jun 11, 2021 – Sept 4, 2022
- See also:
Austrian author, global impact
(Plaque outside the school in Vienna that Zweig attended)
Born in Habsburg Vienna in 1881, Stefan Zweig’s extensive travels and the scope and popularity of his books allow us to consider him a true global citizen and literary great.
Those travels took him across the continent and into Russia, and over oceans to India, the US and South America. His experiences no doubt contributed to the international perspective in much of his writing, which also carry a strong humanist, if often pessimistic, touch.
Zweig’s biography of Ferdinand Magellan, for example, follows the explorer as he attempts to circumnavigate the globe. Much of the novella, Amok, is set in Indonesia. Chess Story acts as a metaphor for the confrontation with fascism.
Concern at the rise of the Nazis saw Zweig leave Austria in the 1930s for the UK, and he eventually settled permanently in Brazil. His disappointment in the rampant, destructive nationalism back home in Europe undoubtedly contributed to his eventual suicide in 1942.
At the time, Zweig was what one New York Times correspondent, writing in 2011, called one of the world’s…
…most translated authors, renowned for his taut novellas exploring passion, obsession and despair.
Zweig remains culturally significant even in the 21st century, some 80 years after his death.
For example, the 2013 movie A Promise was based on his novel, Journey into the Past. His biography of Mary Stuart became the 2013 film, Mary Queen of Scots. And his writing inspired 2014’s BAFTA, Golden Globe and Academy Award-winning The Grand Budapest Hotel.
The Literature Museum’s exhibition addresses the worldwide appeal of Zweig and uses video and audio clips, documents (including original manuscripts) and photos to follow him on his journey to wider recognition and bestseller status.
Dates and tickets
Follow Zweig’s journey from June 11th, 2021 to September 4th, 2022. At the time of writing, a standard adult ticket costs €7 to enter the museum and see the exhibition. The Vienna Pass or Flexipass sightseeing passes get you one-time free entry.
The Literature Museum’s special exhibitions normally include full information in English.
How to get to the exhibition
See the main Literature Museum article for help on finding the place. The Zweig exhibition occupies the top floor. The museum lies just off the pedestrianised part of Kärntner Straße in the very centre of Vienna.
Walk across to the other side of the old town and you’ll find Zweig’s birthplace (at Schottenring 14), marked with a commemorative plaque.
The exhibition involved a collaboration with Salzburg’s Stefan Zweig Centre and the Literaturarchiv Salzburg. If you wish to learn more about this giant of world literature, Salzburg is an easy day trip from Vienna.
Address: Johannesgasse 6, 1010 Vienna