Monday, 14 April 2014

Journey into the Past by Stefan Zweig Review

Ludwig begins a passionate affair with the wife of his employer but is relocated shortly after by the company to work in Mexico for two years. World War One begins and those two years stretch to much longer until Ludwig forgets her and moves on, meets someone new and starts a family of his own. 

After the war and some more time passes, the company sends him back to Europe on business where he decides to meet his long-lost love and catch up - and that’s when he realises he’s still in love with her. As the two try to connect after years apart, will they find their love remains or has it gone forever? 

Stefan Zweig’s novella sounds like the plot of a mushy romance novel but it’s anything but melodramatic pulp. The strengths of Zweig’s prose lie in his ability to convincing and insightfully portray real emotion while exploring the human psyche. The doomed affair comes across as genuine, as is the complexity of two lovers’ feelings when reuniting after years apart. 

With the exception of the Nazi parade at the end - signalling the rise of Hitler and the lead up to World War Two - there unfortunately wasn’t much that felt memorable. While I believed the two characters and their relationship, it wasn’t enough to keep me very interested - it didn’t feel substantial enough, despite its brevity. 

I enjoyed his other novella, Chess, much more so I’d recommend that over this, but if you want to read a short and smart psychological romance, Journey into the Past is for you.

Journey into the Past

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