Writing European Lives. Stefan Zweig as a Biographer of Verhaeren, Rolland and Erasmus

Marleen Rensen



The Jewish-Austrian writer Stefan Zweig (1881–1942) was a passionate biographer who wrote about the lives of many influential people in European literature and history. In some of these biographies the genre is consciously employed as a vehicle to express an idea of Europe and foster a sense of belonging to a common European culture. His life stories of Emile Verhaeren (1910), Romain Rolland (1921) and Erasmus (1934) illustrate particularly well how Zweig portrayed artists as emblematic Europeans. As a biographer, he mediated across cultures in order to highlight the transnational elements of their lives that link disparate cultures in Europe. As the practice of writing European lives affected Zweig’s sense of belonging to Europe, the portraits of Verhaeren, Rolland and Erasmus anticipated some of the central themes of his self-narration in Die Welt von Gestern. Erinnerungen eines Europäers (1942).

This article was submitted on 7 June 2014 and published on 10 June 2015.


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5463/ejlw.4.162

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Copyright (c) 2015 Marleen Rensen

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European Journal of Life Writing - ISSN 1876-8156 - is an open access initiative supported by the VU University Library.