Edenic Vienna

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 07.52.24Dalrymple writes that in The World of Yesterday, Zweig describes

the happiness of living in a cultivated and tolerant cosmopolitan society in which politics were secondary, any wars (like government itself) were small, limited, distant, and unimportant, personal freedom reached its apogee, and everything had the appearance — delusory, of course — of solidity and permanence. People felt they could plan for the future, because money would always retain its value and interest rates would never change. The joy of material progress, evident year after year, was unclouded by the realisation that man remained a wolf to man.

The author of 'Amok' and 'Mary, Queen of Scotland and the Isles'

The author of ‘Amok’

Hapsburg Vienna, in Zweig’s view,

was deeply civilised because it was politically and militarily impotent.

However, Zweig

evaded the question of how to protect the peaceful sheep from the ravening wolves.

In Zweig’s Vienna,

Zweig père

Zweig père

informal rules and conventions governed people’s lives far more deeply than laws or rights conferred by legislators. He recounts, for example, that his father, though a multimillionaire mill owner easily able to afford it, refused to dine at the Hotel Sacher, since it was the traditional haunt of the Empire’s upper aristocracy. He would have felt it tactless to obtrude where he was not really wanted; and (an almost inconceivable attitude today) he felt no bitterness at not being wanted. His actual freedoms were more than enough for his appetites.

Hotel Sacher

Hotel Sacher

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