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TEI RDF

by Simone Lettner

STEFAN ZWEIG AT WORK

How is one to identify the method followed by a writer in his creative work? Stefan Zweig, who was himself keenly interested in the creative process of other artists, offers an answer by way of comparison with a forensic investigation: “Just like the objects left behind by the murderer at the crime scene, the prints he leaves, constitute the most dependable evidence in criminology, so the studies and plans that the artist has left offer the sole possibility of reconstructing the interior process. They are the Ariadne’s thread which we can hold on to in the labyrinth which is the creator’s brain.” Following Zweig’s own suggestion of clue-hunting, we shall here attempt similarly to investigate the evidence of his own work so as to determine how he gradually developed the composition of his texts. The piece we shall consider for this purpose is Das erste Wort über den Ozean (The First Word Across the Ocean), one of the historical miniatures in Zweig’s collection Sternstunden der Menschheit (Decisive Moments in History), which first appeared in English in 1940 as The Tide of Fortune in a translation by Eden and Cedar Paul. Das erste Wort über den Ozean is a work of which the Literature Archive Salzburg holds a number of documents which allow readers to track the textual genesis step by step. An idea of how this might be done may be conveyed by the following example, which traces the development of a single sentence from the earliest rough sketches to the handwritten revisions of the typescript.

Note: for the benefit of non-German readers, all text specimens will be accompanied by literal English translations in {braces}. Where available, the corresponding passages from the Pauls’ translation, more idiomatic but less helpful for the purpose at hand, will be provided in footnotes for comparison. The English approximations that accompany the unpublished German sources are intended to convey an impression of the gradual process of textual revision, as well as of the frequently imperfect grammar and syntax of the original.

In the first printing (FP), the sentence under consideration, as approved for publication by Zweig at the end of his writing and revising process, reads thus:

Dieses weltbedeutsame Jahr 1837, da zum erstenmal der Telegraph das bisher isolierte menschliche Leben gleichzeitig macht, wird selten in unseren Schulbüchern auch nur vermerkt, die es leider noch immer für wichtiger halten, von Kriegen und Siegen einzelner Feldherren und Nationen zu erzählen, statt von den wahrhaften, weil gemeinsamen Triumphen der Menschheit.

{This world-significant year 1837, when for the first time the telegraph made simultaneous the previously isolated human life, is rarely even mentioned in our school-books, which unfortunately still consider it more important to relate the battles and victories of individual army commanders and nations rather than the genuine, because shared, triumphs of mankind.}

A spiral-bound notebook with simple catchwords jotted down by hand represents the earliest known stage of this work. Two different levels of revision may be distinguished: H1/1 and H1/2 (see below for details). H1/2 contains early notes which clearly relate to the sentence in our example:


H1/2:
Jahr 1837 (und nicht in die Schulbücher geschrieben)
{year 1837 (and not written in the school-books)}

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Loose leaves which originally had been inserted into the spiral notebook are here referred to as H2. They reveal the notion considerably developed:


H2:
Dieses Jahr 1837, Menschheit, fast nie in
die Schulbücher geschrieben, die es noch immer für wichtiger
halten, Kriegen und Siegen erzählen, statt von ihrem wahr
haften gemeinsamen Triumphe.

{This year 1837, humanity, almost never written in the school-books, which still consider it more important relate battles and victories rather than its genuine shared triumphs.}

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The process of revision has advanced even more markedly in a preserved typescript (T) containing handwritten corrections. Ignoring the corrections and focusing on the typewritten basic layer, the sentence in our example now reads thus:


T:
Dieses Jahr 1837, da zum erstenmal der Tele-
graph in einer Sekunde Botschaft von Stadt zu Stadt,
von Land zu Ländern trägt, die gestern noch dutzende
von Reisetagen voneinander entfernt waren, ist fast
niemals in unseren Schulbüchern vermerkt, die es noch
immer für wichtiger halten, von Kriegen und Siegen
einzelner Feldherren und Nationen zu erzählen statt
von den wahrhaften, weil gemeinsamen Triumphen der
Menschheit.

{This year 1837, when for the first time the telegraph, in a mere second, bears message from city to city, from country to countries, places which even yesterday were separated by a journey of dozens of days, is almost never mentioned in our school-books, which still consider it more important to relate the battles and victories of individual army commanders and nations, rather than the genuine, because shared, triumphs of mankind.}

If we take into account the handwritten corrections, we can observe Zweig polishing away at details of the composition:


Th:
Dieses entscheidende Schicksaljahr 1837, da zum erstenmal der Tele-
graph innerhalb einer Sekunde Botschaft von Stadt zu Stadt,
von Land zu Ländern trägt, die gestern noch dutzende
von Reisetagen voneinander entfernt waren, ist selten
oder überhaupt nicht in unseren Schulbüchern auch nur vermerkt, die es noch
immer für wichtiger halten, von Kriegen und Siegen
einzelner Feldherren und Nationen zu erzählen statt
von den wahrhaften, weil gemeinsamen Triumphen der
Menschheit.

{This decisive fateful year 1837, when for the first time the telegraph, within a mere second, bears its message from city to city, from country to countries, places which even yesterday were separated by a journey of dozens of days, is rarely or never at all even mentioned in our school-books, which still consider it more important to relate the battles and victories of individual army commanders and nations, rather than the genuine, because shared, triumphs of mankind.}

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In the following paragraphs I shall give a brief introduction to Das erste Wort über den Ozean, then describe in more detail the notebook, the loose leaves of handwritten notes, and the typescript – in short, the media containing the quotes under discussion. Subsequently, I shall present two further examples of Stefan Zweig’s textual revisions in their various stages, comparing them in the manner of the specimen above.

DAS ERSTE WORT ÜBER DEN OZEAN

This historical miniature was first published in 1939, in Moscow, in the German-language exile journal Internationale Literatur (first printing, FP). From the first, Zweig had conceived this tale as a “Decisive Moment in History” intended for his like-named collection, as is evidenced by notes belonging within the context of his spiral notebook "Werknotizen 7", preserved in the Literature Archive Salzburg. Sternstunden der Menschheit had first appeared in book form in 1927, comprising only five stories. In time, Zweig wrote additional “Decisive Moments”, ultimately arriving at the fourteen episodes that today form the collection.

Much like his work on his historical biographies, Zweig's work on his “Decisive Moments” was based on a close study of sources, a fact which is clearly reflected in his early notes for Das erste Wort über den Ozean. His principal source was Henry M. Field’s The Story of the Atlantic Telegraph (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons 1892). As Werner Michler and Martina Wörgötter explain in the Salzburg edition ofSternstunden der Menschheit, the numerous page references given in Zweig’s notes for Das erste Wort über den Ozean within “Werknotizen 7” all refer to this publication. In one instance, the notes themselves point to this source, stating the name “Field” next to a page number. One additional source is indicated in Zweig's spiral notebook: John Joseph Fahie’s A History of [Electric] Telegraphy to the year 1837 (London: E. & F.N. Spon 1884). We may assume that Zweig first based his work on Field’s book and then discovered Fahie’s publication in the course of writing. This sequence of events is suggested by the fact that he registered Fahie’s source in the same place where he had already excerpted information from Field.
The events described in Das erste Wort über den Ozean connect this piece with other Zweigian narratives of pioneering transatlantic journeys and discoveries; these include his biography of Ferdinand Magellan (1937, dated 1938 on the title-page) and other “Decisive Moments”, in particular Escape to Immortality, an episode written at approximately the same time as Das erste Wort über den Ozean (composed around 1937, first published in German in 1943). In 1936, having lived in British exile for the previous two years, Zweig travelled to Buenos Aires to attend the International Congress of the PEN Club; on this occasion he gave lectures in various locations throughout Brazil. It is conspicuous that during this time Zweig began to devote himself in earnest to the subject of America’s discovery and exploitation by European navigators and colonialists. Even though the action here is set in the 19th century, Das erste Wort über den Ozean is not far removed from these themes, as it discusses crossing the Atlantic and the pioneering achievement of laying the transatlantic cable. There is no mistaking Zweig’s pacifist motivation: indeed, the very beginning of the story spells out that for historiography, innovations like the laying of telegraph lines, connecting peoples and countries, should take precedence over divisive events such as wars. His early notes, which already contain this notion, prove that this aspect was important to Zweig from the very beginning. Furthermore, the story concludes with an unequivocally pacifistic statement: “The world would be gloriously unified for all future ages by this victory over space and time, were it not that she is again and again seized with a frenzy which leads her to destroy her own magnificent achievements and seeks to annihilate herself by the very means which have given her mastery over the elements.”

WERKNOTIZEN 7 (H1/1 AND H1/2)

The aforementioned “Werknotizen 7” consist in a spiral notebook containing sketches for several of Zweig’s literary projects. Much space is taken up by notes for the legend Der begrabene Leuchter (The Buried Candelabrum). It also contains notes for Magellan revealing that this text was originally conceived as another “Decisive Moment” rather than as an independent biography, as well as further notes for an unidentified novella featuring as its protagonist a privy councillor “A. R.”. Finally, fourteen leaves are devoted to Das erste Wort über den Ozean.
Approximately in the middle of this unit, after the first seven leaves, a blank double page serves to separate two distinguishable drafting stages (H1/1, H1/2). The second half revisits and develops themes from the first seven leaves of notes, infusing them with new material. Both parts of these spiral notebook drafts take the form of very rough sketches dominated by nouns. Conjunctions and adverbs are rare at this early stage; verbs frequently appear in the form of participles. The first few pages contain several English expressions, some of which correspond to German translation s jotted down close by in pencil. This would indicate that these strongly source-based notes represent excerpts from Zweig's principal English-language source (Field’s Story of the Atlantic Telegraph), which even here is amplified by a basic framework of the narrative.
Zweig recorded these early notes for Das erste Wort über den Ozean in purple ink and pencil. The style of penmanship changes markedly several times, suggesting that the notes were written down at intervals. They convey the impression of having been dashed off hastily, possibly during travel, almost certainly not at a desk. Occasionally poorly legible words indicate that Zweig here wrote exclusively for his personal use, not with any other reader in mind.
The section belonging to Das erste Wort über den Ozean is situated at one of the ends of the spiral notebook; it is preceded by three pages of notes for Der begrabene Leuchter. The notebook was turned head over heels, and entries advance toward the middle from both ends of the volume. Hence, the section containing the more extensive notes for Der begrabene Leuchter as well as those for Magellan, begun from the opposite end, appears upside down when the notes for Das erste Wort über den Ozean are right side up. In the middle of the booklet are 22 blank double pages which separate the two converging sets of notes. The three pages preceding the section on Das erste Wort über den Ozean, belonging to Der begrabene Leuchter, appear upside down as well. Zweig's habit of using the right-hand page for the body of his notes and the left-hand page opposite for any additions is at evidence throughout the notebook.

FOUR LOOSE LEAVES (H2)

Originally four loose leaves were inserted within the spiral notebook, written on one side only and containing additional sketches for Das erste Wort über den Ozean. Comparison with the notebook reveals that they represent a somewhat advanced draft stage. While the loose leaves show a similar shorthand composition without complete sentences, the framework of keywords has here assumed a new character, with some sentences approaching a more organized syntactical structure. The primary writing material remains Stefan Zweig’s typical purple ink; occasional keywords have been added in later with red ink. Not all parts of the storyline are covered by these four extant leaves. The notes begin only with the invention of the telegraph and extend as far as the early stages of the second attempt at laying the cable, following the failure of the first. While it appears probable that additional loose leaves from this stage of work existed at some point, this cannot be determined with certainty. Some of the notes which Zweig recorded within “Werknotizen 7” as (later) additions are re-adopted in this stage of work.

TYPESCRIPT (T AND TH)

A total of 29 leaves, typed and written on one side only, represent a stage of revision far more advanced than the handwritten notes preserved in the previously discussed media. The basic layer, and first stage of this draft, is formed by the typewritten text (T). It may be assumed that it was not Zweig himself, but probably Lotte Altmann, soon to be his second wife, who copied the text on a typewriter. Between the lines, purposely spaced widely, as well as in the generous margins, are numerous handwritten revisions by Zweig in purple ink (Th). In contrast to those described previously, these new handwritten notes are penned with care, apparently for the benefit of a secretarial reader.
The first leaf of the typescript is captioned “Das erste Wort über den Ozean” by Lotte in blue pencil, showing that the final title had been decided upon even at this stage. In the same blue pencil two diagonal lines have been drawn across the page, crossing it out. Comparison of the first printing with the typescript reveals that the latter, even considering the handwritten revisions, does not yet contain the exact wording of the published text. Hence, there must have been at least one more typescript draft stage with further handwritten changes, which has not survived. However, since many of the handwritten revisions in the extant typescript are incorporated into the published text, the present notes clearly were used in the course of further revision.
Conspicuously, only roughly the first half of the 29 leaves bear Zweig’s closely handwritten annotations, while the remainder show no handwritten revisions at all. Instead, a total of five leaves within the second half contain pencil notes of various lengths on their reverse. The verso side of the sheet serves a purpose comparable to that of the left-hand page in the spiral notebook, containing briefly sketched textual insertions intended to be incorporated into the next draft stage.

TWO FURTHER EXAMPLES

    Key to editorial symbols in the German transcription:

  • [x] = letter(s) omitted from the handwritten notes, supplied by the editor
  • *x* = words enclosed by asterisks are conjectural or doubtful readings

Example 1

FP:
Aber noch widerstrebt die Natur dieser letzten Vereinigung, noch stemmt sie ein Hemmnis entgegen, noch bleiben zwei Jahrzehnte lang all jene Länder abgeschaltet, die durch das Meer voneinander geschieden sind.

{But still nature defies this final union, still she opposes it with an impediment, still all those countries severed by the sea remain shut off for two more decades.}


H1/1:
Feuchtigkeit nicht hemmt

{Moisture not impede}

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H1/2:
Ein Hemmnis. Das Wasser. Das Meer. Nicht über
brücken. Nicht Porzelanisolierung. Nicht Eisen Elektricität. In
Wasser halt.

{An impediment. Water. Sea. Not to be bridged. Not porcelain insulation. Not iron electricity. Simply in water.}

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H2:
Aber noch ein Hemmnis. Ström weiter, Länder *der*
Grenze. Halt machen am Meer. Noch alle Länder abgeschaltet vo[n]
der grossen künftigen E[i]nheit.

{But one more impediment. Flow on, countries of the border (?). Stop at the sea. Still all countries shut off from the great future union.}

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T:
Aber noch widerstrebt die Natur dieser letzten
Vereinigung, noch stemmt sie ein Hemmnis entgegen,
noch bleiben von dem elektrischen Strom, der das
Wort über die Erde trägt, alle jene Länder ausge-
schaltet, die durch das Meer vom Festland getrennt
sind.

{But still nature defies this final union, still she opposes it with an impediment, still all those countries which the sea separates from the mainland remain shut off from the electric current that bears the word across the earth.}


Th:
Aber noch widerstrebt die Natur dieser letzten
Vereinigung. Noch stemmt sie ein Hemmnis entgegen,
noch bleiben ein Jahrzehnt lang
alle jene Länder abge-
schaltet, die durch das Meer vom Festland getrennt
sind.

{But still nature defies this final union. Still she opposes it with an impediment, still for a decade all those countries which the sea separates from the mainland remain shut off.}

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Example 2

FP:
Glücklicherweise reicht nun in den Zeiten des Fortschritts eine Erfindung der andern hilfreich die Hand. Wenige Jahre nach der Einführung des Landtelegraphen wird das Guttapercha entdeckt als der geeignete Stoff, elektrische Leitungen im Wasser zu isolieren. Nun kann man beginnen, das wichtigste Land jenseits des Kontinents, England, an das europäische Telegraphennetz anzuschließen.

{Fortunately, in times of progress one invention will tend to lend a helping hand to the next. A few years after the introduction of the terrestrial telegraph, gutta-percha is discovered to be the substance suited to insulating electrical cables in water. Now one can begin to link up the most important country beyond the Continent, England, with the European telegraph network.}


H1/1:
Gummi „india rubber“ Guttapercha (Art Macaro
nimaschine)

{Rubber “india rubber” gutta-percha (kind of macaroni machine)}

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H1/1:
Isolierungsmittel.
Erfindungen Hand in Hand

{Insulation medium. Inventions hand in hand}

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H1/2 (left):
Hilft neues Isolierungsmittel (immer Erfind[ungen]
Hand in Hand)

{New insulation medium helps (always inventions hand in hand)}

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H1/2 (right):
Gefunden
gesucht. In Kabel. Glücklicherweise Coordinierung. Guttapercha
gefunden.

{Discovered sought. In cable. Fortunately co-ordination. Gutta-percha discovered.}

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H2:
Zeiten des Fort
schritt[s] eine Erfindung ander[n] die Hand reicht, Guttapercha, Isolier[u]ng.

{Times of progress one invention lends hand to others, gutta-percha, insulation.}

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T:
Nun reicht in den Zeiten des
Fortschritts immer eine Erfindung der andern die
Hand; fast gleichzeitig mit dem Telegraphen wird
auch das Guttapercha entdeckt als ein Stoff, der
die elektrische Ladung sichert, und nun kann man
versuchen, das wichtigste Land Europas jenseits
des Festlands, England, an den Kontinent anzu-
schliessen.

{After all, in times of progress one invention always lends a hand to the next; almost simultaneously with the telegraph, gutta-percha is discovered to be a substance that protects the electrical charge, and now one can try to link up the most important country in Europe beyond the mainland, England, with the Continent.}


Th:
Glücklicherweise reicht aber immer in den Zeiten des
Fortschritts eine Erfindung der andern
die Hand; fast gleichzeitig mit dem Telegraphen wird
auch das Guttapercha entdeckt als der geeignete Stoff, um
elektrische Leitungen vor jedem Contacte storenden Contacte zu sichern; nun erst kann man
unternehmen, das wichtigste Land Europas jenseits
des Festlands, England, an den Kontinent anzu-
schliessen.

{But fortunately, in times of progress one invention always lends a hand to the next; almost simultaneously with the telegraph, gutta-percha is discovered to be the substance suited to protecting electrical cables from any contact interfering contact; only now can one go about trying to link up the most important country in Europe beyond the mainland, England, with the Continent.}

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