Olağanüstü Bir Gece
Yazar: Ilgın Kocaman
1914 yılında Rava-Ruska'da bir Avusturya
hafif süvari alayıyla katıldığı çarpışmalarda şehit düşen Baron Fredrich
M. von R.nin yazı masasında bulunan notlar daha sonra ailesi tarafından
gözden geçirilmesi istenerek yazara verilmiş. Stefan Zweig de sadece altı
saatlik bir zaman dilimini kapsayan bu olağanüstü geceyi sadece ismini değiştirerek
Olağanüstü Bir Gece kitabı ile yazıya dökmüş. Baron Fredrich'in hikayesi
Tarihler 7 Haziran 1913 ü gösterdiğinde otuz altı yaşındaki barona erken
ölen ailesinden bir miras kalmıştı. Kendisi bu fırsatı iyi değerlendirerek
subaylık mesleğinden vazgeçmiş ve kendince emekliye ayrılmıştı. Ailesi soylu
bir sınıftan geliyordu, normalde de durumu oldukça iyiydi. Üstüne bir de
bu miras gelince tamamen zengin ve soylu bir aristokrat olmuştu. Tüm ilgi
alanını lüks ve çok nadir uğraşlara ayırıyordu. Mesela antikacılardan nadir
parçalar bularak bunları uygun bir sistemle dizmek ona çok keyif verirken,
o günlerin en çok okunan kitaplarına ilk sahip olmak da bir diğer uğraşıydı.
Tabii birde kadınlar vardı. Kadınlar kesinlikle ilgi alanına giriyordu.
Fakat tüm bu zengin yaşayış bir süre sonra onu derin bir durgunluğa soktu.
Tam altı ay sürecek bu uzun durgunluk döneminde tüm heveslerinden uzaklaştı.
Artık ne kitaplar ne pahalı antikalar ne de kadınlar ona heyecan veriyordu.
Sıradan bir hayatın tam içindeydi. Ta ki o olağanüstü geceye kadar.
O gün evden bir anlığına çıktı ve etrafın oldukça kalabalık olduğunu faytonların
soyluları ve sosyeteden tanıdığı simaları sırayla götürdüklerini gördü.
O da hemen bir faytona atladı. Arabacının sorusu ise bütün olayı açıklıyordu.
Arabacı " At yarışlarına değil mi efendim? "demişti. Baron da bu soruya
başını sallayarak cevap vermiş ve kendisini bir anda yarışlarda bulmuştu.
Aslında altı ay öncesine kadar böyle olayları hiç kaçırmazdı. İçeri girdiğinde
herkesin sıralarına oturduğunu, çok özenle giyindiklerini görmüştü. Yarışın
başlamasıyla tüm soylular sanki bambaşka insan oluvermişlerdi. Bağırıyor,
kazanmasını istedikleri atın ismini haykırıyorlardı. Bu heyecan bir anda
baronu etkiledi. Çünkü onun uzun zamandır hissedemediği bir duyguyu tüm
bu insanlar yaşıyorlardı. Ardından yarışlara biraz ara verildi. Bu ara esnasında
baronun gözü bir hanımefendiye takılmıştı. Çok güzel ve alımlı olan bu kadın
adeta gözleriyle barona cilve yapıyordu. Bu durum yine hoşuna gitti baronun.
Çünkü gizli bir oyun ona heyecan vermişti. Fakat kadının yanında birden
şişman ve kel bir adam belirdi. Elini kadının omzuna atmasıyla baron onun
kadının kocası olduğunu anladı. Artık oyun bitmiş ve heyecanını yitirmişti.
Yarışlar tekrar başlarken bir anda kargaşa oldu. Şişman ve kel adam o karmaşayla
elindeki tüm kuponları düşürdü. Bir tane kuponda baronun ayağına denk geldi.
Eline aldığı sırada yarış başladı. Maçı takip etmeye ve heyecanlanmaya başladı.
Çünkü kuponundaki at yeniyordu. Yarış bitti ve tüm ikramiyeyi baron aldı.
Bu suç işleme duygusu ve yaşadığı heyecan ona tekrar bilet aldırttı. Yine
maçı o kazandı ve çok fazla parası oldu. Fakat baron bu durumdan hiç memnun
değildi. Soylu birisine hiç yakışmıyordu bu durum. Üzgün bir şekilde panayır
gibi bir yere girdi. Burada insanların arasına karışmak ve durgunluğunun
nedenini anlamaya çalışıyordu. Gece yarısına kadar yanına kimse gelmedi.
Hatta insanlar ondan uzaklaşıyor gibiydi. Çünkü kıyafeti ve duruşuyla soylu
biri olduğunu belli ediyordu. Dükkanlar ve lunapark kapanınca baronun yanında
biri geldi. Bu bir fahişeydi. İlk kez birinin dikkatini çektiği için heyecan
duydu ve onun peşinden gitti. Fakat biraz uzaklaşınca arkasında iki kişinin
olduğunu gördü. Kadına çok yüklü bir para verdi ve arkasındaki iki kişiye
de acıyarak onlara da para verdi. Para alan bu aciz insanların yüzündeki
mutluluk ona çok büyük bir his yaşattı.
O akşam gördüğü herkese yardım etmek istedi. Baloncunun tüm balonlarını
satın aldı, kek satan yaşlı kadının önünden kek alarak yüklü bahşiş bıraktı.
Evlerin camlarından içeri paralar attı. En sonunda hayatının amacını ve
kendi benliğini buldu. O akşamdan sonra çok mutlu ve bilinçli bir insan
olarak yaşamaya devam etti. Hiç yalnızlık çekmedi aksine artık sokakta gördüğü
her insanla muhabbet ediyor, yardımlaşıyor ve artık yalnızlık duygusunu
zerre kadar hissetmiyordu.
A brief survey of the short story part 18: Stefan Zweig
For Stefan Zweig, the first and second world wars
destroyed an entire way of life, one kept alive in his subtle, striking,
'A citizen of the world'
The Austrian writer Stefan Zweig (1881-1942).
Thursday 11 June 2009 11.18 BST First published on Thursday 11 June 2009
11.18 BST Despite being one of the most famous writers in the world during
the 1920s and 30s, Stefan Zweig's reputation faded considerably and almost
totally in English-speaking countries following the second world war.
Over the past few years, however, his star has once more been in the ascendant.
That many of his stories are in print again is thanks, in this country at
least, to Pushkin Press, whose stewardship of European literature in translation
is one of the more praiseworthy publishing endeavours of the past decade.
The primary reasons why Zweig's stories are so worthy of reclamation from
obscurity are straightforward and compelling: the stories are imbued with
tremendous psychological acuity; they are as page-turning as they are subtle;
and the profound moral sense which underpins them never tips over into moralising.
To fully understand Zweig, who was a non-practising Jew, it is necessary
to be aware of the value he placed on his identity as a European and as
a citizen of the world, as opposed to of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Born
into a wealthy Viennese family in 1881, Zweig wrote in his posthumously
published memoir, The World of Yesterday (1943), that his parents regarded
their environment "as if it had been a house of stone". "Today, now that
the great storm has long since smashed it, we finally know that that world
of security was naught but a castle of dreams."
By far the most effective and striking part of Zweig's fictional oeuvre
is precisely to do with this disappearance of the old world and its cultural
values, and with the war that destroyed them. It might be thought that harking
back to the "good old days" of the Austro-Hungarian empire makes Zweig a
decadent but, as Paul Bailey has noted, "Zweig puts decadence in perspective,
neither revelling in its attractiveness not castigating its more squalid
aspects. It is his aesthetic purpose to sound the human note, and to do
so in such a disarming manner as to shame the reader who has already made
facile judgements." Additionally, Zweig was a committed pacifist and worked
throughout the first world war to disseminate his beliefs, combining in
this mission with the French writer Romain Rolland.
Zweig's story Compulsion (1920), one of his finest, concerns Ferdinand,
an artist who has fled to Switzerland to avoid enlistment. When his call-up
orders eventually find him, he feels unaccountably obliged to comply, much
to his wife's disgust. Zweig writes: "He felt that somehow or other his
name had hooked him from behind to haul him back into that bloodstained
thicket, that something he didn't know, although it knew him, was not about
to let him go." The tension generated by Ferdinand's conflicted sense of
duty, pacifist beliefs and love for his wife is extraordinarily powerful.
Several more of his stories unfold beneath the war's ominous shadow. Fantastic
Night (1922) purports to be the memoir of a baron who has fallen at the
battle of Rawa-Ruska in 1914; in the unfinished Wondrak, written during
the war, a Bohemian mother's obsessive love for her son pits her against
the Imperial authorities; Incident On Lake Geneva (1936) sees an isolated
Russian soldier drown while trying to return to his family; Jacob Mendel,
the titular bibliophilic genius of Buchmendel, is a political innocent whose
life is heartbreakingly ruined when he is suspected of being a spy.
In each of these stories, innocence, promise or the pacifist's moral standpoint
are either snuffed out or gravely threatened. Zweig variously describes
the war as Europe's "fit of drunkenness", "this foolish prank played by
diplomats and generals left to their own devices", "a strange and pitiless
force treading a whole world underfoot", and the reason for "those little
crosses ... that now cover the continent of Europe from end to end".
It is commonly held to be the case that Zweig, having fled mainland Europe
for Britain as his books were burned at Berlin University before moving
to Brazil, killed himself alongside his wife in 1942 due to the news of
Japan's advances in the far east. I am persuaded, however, by Clive James's
opinion that this final act was of a piece with Zweig's disconsolate grief
for a vanished world; that although "he already knew that the Nazis weren't
going to win the war ... [he] thought they had already won the war that
Stefan Zweigs Fantastic Night and Other Stories Tales of Longing and Liberation
Ivy Ngeow THE READING LIFE, THE WRITING LIFE, UNCATEGORISED 1920s, Austria, Books, grandbudapesthotel, modernfiction, reading, reviews, shortstories, stefanzweig, Vienna, wesanderson,
29TH APRIL 2016
Fantastic Night and Other Stories was written in 1922. Zweig was born in Vienna in 1881 to a wealthy Austrian Jewish family. He moved everywhere after he was a student in Berlin, he ended in London and New York and finally Brazil. He died in a double suicide with his wife in Brazil in 1942. These are Tales of Longing and Liberation says the inside of the front cover. These are loose terms and indeed I did not have any idea or want to have any idea what they meant. Zweig was an inspiration for Wes Andersons Grand Budapest Hotel. You are probably thinking the same thing. Yep. Moustache.
is the first and the longest (54 pages) of the collection. The main character, unnamed, tells his story through the narrator being given the text of the story that is to be told. This was quite a modern psychological concept of the time, which also means that it is dated and contextual. Fantastic Night (I love the title BTW, I really think the writer has totally captured our hearts and our imagination because you straightaway want to know what is it about the night that was fantastic?) is about mans spiritual awakening. That night, became
the pivot on which my whole existence turns.
Turning is always a good theme for a story, that is the transformation for which the reader is looking. And before that night, the main character was a wealthy, seemingly worry-free, successful yet vacuous 36 year old man, someone who was trite and childish. Money does do that to people. Therefore the universal themes did apply then. How many successful vacuous people do you know?
I did not lack for success with women, and here too, with the secret collectors urge which in a way indicates a lack of real involvement, I chalked up many memorable and precious hours of varied experience. In this field I gradually moved from being a mere sensualist to the status of a knowledgeable connoisseur.
But nothing stirred, I felt as if I were made of glass, with the world outside shining through me and never lingering within
The scene at the races which was his so -called pivot, took a tad too long. I really wanted to know why Zweig could not get the story told quicker. Maybe it is that archaic suspenseful literary technique of storytelling which grates on me. The character experiences and toys with a minor indiscretion (well, basically, overt flirting with a married lady), leading to
the pull of criminality
Where the criminality referred to is how he managed to pull wool over the womans husbands eyes, cheated the stupid bloke of his winnings, in order to impress the woman he was flirting with (who was BTW not pretty but fat and red-faced yet someone he found attractive because of her raucous, dirty laugh), and then to return the cheated money in an over-the-top overpayment secret gesture.
I felt myself, desiccated as I was, suddenly flowering again.
The word desiccated was very evocative of a decadent period, decaying morals, old money, despair, coconut. Although it was predictable but open conclusion, I think the darkness, moral nature and long-windedness of the story actually contributed to its power and I found it satisfyingly morbid.
Once a man has found himself, there is nothing in this world that he can lose.
I think that is really beautifully said. This is a metaphysical story that actually brings about ideas, a story that makes you think. You cannot read this without thinking: you wont be able to enjoy its richness. This is where the universal themes come into play. A rich man must start from scratch in order to live. That is the moral of the story.
was quite a brief old-fashioned story. Very simply it was about a nanny that got pregnant by Otto the lodger (a university student) of the household and she was so vehemently berated by her employer that she did something terrible to herself. The parents are supposedly on the moral high ground, they are cold, unfeeling and needless to say, wealthy (or wealthy enough to afford the nanny). The Frau of the house refers to the Frauleins condition:
Excuses, excuses! Every promiscuous girl will offer that excuse! Shell blame the first man who comes to mind and thinking nothing of it, hoping the good Lord will come to her aid. And a woman like that claims to be a governess and fit to educate girls. Its outrageous. You sure dont imagine that, in your condition, I shall keep you in my household any longer?
This story was actually told in the third person, but from the childrens POV. I was very sad and frightened for the children she cared for, for truly they cared for her and thought she was very ill. They took the trouble to take their own money and buy white roses for her because they knew that she loved them. But it was too late. In this story, it was clear that the children were severely affected and upset because they were so attached to the nanny and the nanny to them.
Letter from an Unknown Woman
was the most powerful story in the colleciton, IMHO. I could not stop reading it. It was totally gripping and unsettling. The story spans a womans entire lifetime, from childhood to her early demise. The character that the story is about is not this woman, that is why this is such a clever story. That main character is a successful writer, who never speaks, to whom the entire story is addressed in second person, who receives a letter from a woman who is dying who turns out to have known and devoted herself to him all her life, from childhood onwards.
However, I did not guess that at the time age of thirteen, still a child, it was as it I had been immersed in fire. I though the tenderness was only for me, for me alone, and in that one second, the woman latent in my adolescent self awoke, and she in thrall to you for ever.
At first I thought this must be a stalker story. How foolish and modern I am. Turns out I am wrong.
The woman returns, becomes his lover, becomes mother to his child, becomes a prostitute and therefore making the writer her client in order to raise the child with middle-class luxuries, and all the time dedicated to him. She gave him so many chances to recognise her, as the little girl in the hallway of the apartment building they all lived in, who looked at him through the keyhole who grew up and left the apartment block and came back to become his lover. He never recognised her in more than twenty years despite having met her, fancied her, shagged her so many times. This story was about this character who was truly so solipsistic and narcissistic that he became blind and deaf to someone else, anyone else. They might as well not exist. And now they did not. It was too late, the letter said the son, their son, was ill and had died, and now she was dying too. Quite a depressing story and there is no light coming in from the window at any point. It was a dark, moving and disturbing story. Nuff said.
This is a fine glittering collection, will suit anybody who is a fan of that period of literature, the Viennese tradition, the Grand Budapest Hotel, the deepest, darkest moments of human emotions, loss, gripping passions, intense encounters. Very very excellent reading. It will transform your one evening into a Fantastic Night.