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Stefan Zweig's handwritten letter (1940)

Stefan Zweig's handwritten letter (1940)

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Stefan Zweig, one of the most widely read writers in the world lives his last years in Brazil

Handwritten letter from Stefan Zweig. One page, in French. 21.5 cm x 28 cm. Brazil, September 20, 1940. Perfect condition. Single piece.

Translation from French to Portuguese

I thank "Gazeta" for the invitation made to hold a conference under its auspices and confirm that I received the sum of five contos. Thank you very much.

Stefan Zweig.

It is known that all of us who were born or recognize ourselves as Brazilians have heard the famous phrase that entitles this text. Politicians use it as a campaign slogan. Political scientists use it as a maxim: a utopian future that, in fact, will never be achieved. What few know is that this phrase, before being created or copied by any party, was actually written by Stefan Zweig (1881 - 1942), an Austrian who, in the 1940s, arrived in Brazil and fell in love with the land of palm trees and thrushes. For a man who claimed to be in love with Brazil, he had a name that was a bit difficult for Brazilians to pronounce!

Linguistic mismatches aside, Zweig was one of the greatest writers, novelists, poets, playwrights, journalists and biographers (phew!) of the 20th century. He is still one of the most widely read authors today, with an average of 300,000 books sold every year in France, for example.

Of Jewish origin, he himself said that his parents were Jewish by an accident of birth, since, in his family, religion never played a central role. Which does not mean that the writer denied his origins, on the contrary, in his prolific career, he wrote about many Jewish personalities and themes.

Truth be told, it was Judaism that brought this great thinker to Brazil, even if not for the best reasons. During the First World War, political ideology began to mark Zweig's trajectory, who, like many intellectuals of his time, adhered to the German cause, even though he never enlisted as a combatant. Today we know that the real effect of the war was a bloodbath. As a consequence, the writer became a pacifist, defending the unification of Europe as a solution to its problems. Such a unification never occurred, and with the Second World War, came the persecution of the Jews, this one directly affecting the writer.

Thus, between comings and goings, Zweig ended up settling in Brazil, where he produced an important bibliography on his perceptions of the Brazilian nation. Zweig, upon learning about the poverty of some regions of Bahia, was impressed by the ability of the people who lived there to find happiness in simplicity. Something that, according to him, those who had everything and lost it, like their companions in the Old Continent, were incapable of achieving. He was also moved by how Brazil was built by miscegenation, while Europe was going through a war in search of the pure race.

It was during this time in Brazil that Zweig wrote the essay “Brazil, the country of the future”. Today, would this great admirer of Brazilian culture be proud of the future we build? Unfortunately, Zweig just didn't find his own future here. Discouraged by the advance of Nazism throughout Europe, and even outside of it - it is worth remembering that Getúlio Vargas, then president of Brazil, admired the philosophy of the Aryan race -, the writer fell into a deep depression. And as a result, in 1942, Stefan Zweig committed suicide, along with his wife. In his farewell letter, Zweig thanked Brazil, the country he learned to love, and wished that his friends from the Old Continent could see the dawn after that long night. He, very impatient, left first.

In this unpublished letter in French, the writer accepts an invitation to give one of his last lectures, a little over a year before committing suicide.

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