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“Stefan Zweig and World War I”

Lobby of Reed Library

Organized by the grad students in ENGL 514

“Dear Mister Zweig: A few years ago, in a moment of doubt, I took heart and sent out a selection of my poems, whose words were to determine my fate: whether I would continue working on them or whether I would follow my surroundings and throw all mental activities aside and adopt a reasonable profession. I sent these poems to you.” Thus wrote Erich Maria Remarque in 1929 letter to Stefan Zweig. His groundbreaking novel about World War I, All Quiet on the Western Front, had just been published to great international acclaim; and the letter attests to the pervasive influence played by Zweig over some of the greatest European writers of the early twentieth century.

The hand-written letter by Remarque, as well as the poems he sent to Zweig, are among a handful of archival items from Fredonia’s renowned Stefan Zweig Collection that will be on display in the exhibit, “Stefan Zweig and World War I,” that is to officially open this Thursday Oct 16 at 3 pm in the lobby of Reed Library.  The opening, which will be followed by a reception, is free and open to the public at large.

Marking this year’s centennial of the outbreak of World War I, the exhibit offers a for Western New York unique insight into the causes that led to the war, and how it was experienced by the European artists and writers of the era. Curated by the English graduate students in Prof. Birger Vanwesenbeeck’s “Remembering the Great War” course, the exhibit tells the story of Zweig’s dramatic transformation from his initial employment as a propagandist in the Austrian war archive towards his pacifism later in the war.  Among the items to be displayed are hand-written letters by James Joyce and Frans Masereel;  some of Zweig’s manuscripts and typescripts; as well as a translation of Zweig’s 1915 war poem “Der Krüppel” (“The Cripple”) that, until now, had been unavailable to English readers.

The opening of the exhibit, which will be on display in Reed Library through December 15, will mark the official kick-off for a whole week of Zweig-related activities on the Fredonia campus that will include a staged reading of the play The Last Days of Stefan Zweig; and a keynote lecture on Zweig by French novelist Laurent Seksik.





Zweig at Fredonia, 2014

The life and works of the Austrian-Jewish writer Stefan Zweig (1881-1942) offer a unique insight into the artistic and political turbulence of the first half of the twentieth century. A self-styled humanist and pacifist as well as a longtime advocate for European unification, Zweig was deeply affected by the carnage of World War I and subsequently sought to redeem its trauma through artistic-cultural solidarity. In the 1920s the popularity of his stories and his biographies of such historical figures as Erasmus and Marie-Antoinette made him, according to one study published at the time, the most translated author in the world. A decade later his books would be burned by the Nazis. Forced into exile—like so many other Austrian and European Jews—Zweig moved to Petrópolis, Brazil where, horrified by the carnage of yet another war ravaging his beloved European soil, he committed suicide together with his second wife, Lotte.

The manuscripts, correspondences and personal items of Fredonia’s Stefan Zweig Collection offer a unique insight into the many aspects of this extraordinary life and its literary output. This internationally renowned collection, which first came to Fredonia thanks to the efforts of the late Robert Rie, a longtime friend of Zweig’s and former Professor of Modern Languages at Fredonia, has long been a preferred lending place for museums in Europe who have eagerly displayed some of its items in their exhibits over the years, including most recently in Berlin and Vienna. A video about Fredonia’s Zweig Collection may be accessed at



On Wednesday Oct 22 French author Laurent Seksik will deliver the 3rd Biannual Stefan Zweig Lecture in Rosch Recital Hall at 6 pm. Seksik, who is also a practicing physician, is the author of Les Derniers Jours de Stefan Zweig (translated in English as The Last Days), a bestselling novel about the final months of Zweig and his second wife Lotte who committed suicide in Brazil in 1942.  The novel, which was staged as a theaterproduction in Paris in 2012 and, more recently, adapted into a comic book, has been translated into fifteen languages. Seksik’s lecture will be

entitled, “The Physician as Writer: How Stefan Zweig Changed My Life.” His lecture will be free and open to the public at large. The Biannual Stefan Zweig Lecture series celebrates the legacy and works of Fredonia’s world-renowned Stefan Zweig Collection. For more on this collection, please go to

Reproduction of a 1929 letter by
Erich Maria Remarque to Stefan Zweig
Courtesy of Reed Library

Copies of Seksik’s books as well as the works of Stefan Zweig are available in the campus bookstore.  For more information on the 3rd Biannual Stefan Zweig lecture, please contact Prof. Birger Vanwesenbeeck at


Mar 26 2015





JerichoJericho Brown


MLW visiting writers series


Brown’s newest book, The New Testament, will be released this fall from Copper Canyon Press. His first book, Please (New Issues), won the American Book Award and was a finalist for the Lambda Award for gay poetry. He is the recipient of the Whiting Writers Award and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the Krakow Poetry Seminar in Poland. He is assistant professor of English at Emory University.

9 2015





Ethan Rutherford Ethan


MLW visiting writers series

Ethan Rutherford’s book, The Peripatetic Coffin and Other Stories, was named a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Pick, and a “Best Book of the Summer” by Publishers Weekly. He received his MFA from the University of Minnesota, and has taught creative writing at Macalester College, the University of Minnesota, and the Loft Literary Center. He is the guitarist for the band Pennyroyal. He is currently at work on a novel set in the Alaskan wilderness.






7th Annual
Albert A. Dunn Day of Poetry and Prose

Bartlett Theater


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