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Book cover of Balzac, Dickens, Dostoevsky

Balzac, Dickens, Dostoevsky

by Laurence Mintz (Introduction), Stefan Zweig

Publisher: Transaction Publishers
Pages: 294
Paperback
ISBN: 9781412810470






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Overview of Balzac, Dickens, Dostoevsky

Written over a period of twenty-five years, this first volume in a trilogy is intended to depict in the life and work of writers of different nationalities—Balzac, Dickens, and Dostoevsky—the world-portraying novelist. Though these essays were composed at fairly long intervals, their essential uniformity has prompted Zweig to bring these three great novelists of the nineteenth century together; to show them as writers who, for the very reason that they contrast with each other, also complete one another in ways which makes them round our concept of the epic portrayers of the world.

Zweig considers Balzac, Dickens, and Dostoevsky the supremely great novelists of the nineteenth century. He draws between the writer of one outstanding novel, and what he terms a true novelist—an epic master, the creator of an almost unending series of pre-eminent romances. The novelist in this higher sense is endowed with encyclopedic genius, is a universal artist, who constructs a cosmos, peopling it with types of his own making, giving it laws of gravity that are unique to these fi gures.

Each of the novelists featured in Zweig's book has created his own sphere: Balzac, the world of society; Dickens, the world of the family; Dostoevsky, the world of the One and of the All. A comparison of these spheres serves to prove their diff erences. Zweig does not put a valuation on the differences, or emphasize the national element in the artist, whether in a spirit of sympathy or antipathy. Every great creator is a unity in himself, with its own boundaries and specifi c gravity. There is only one specifi c gravity possible within a single work, and no absolute criterion in the sales of justice. This is the measure of Zweig, and the message of this book.

Synopsis of Balzac, Dickens, Dostoevsky


Written over a period of twenty-five years, this first volume in a trilogy is intended to depict in the life and work of writers of different nationality-Balzac, Dickens, and Dostoevsky-the world-portraying novelist. Though these essays were composed at fairly long intervals, their essential uniformity has prompted Zweig to bring these three great novelists of the nineteenth century together; to show them as writers who, for the very reason that they contrast with each other, also complete one another in ways which makes them round our concept of the epic portrayers of the world.

Zweig considers Balzac, Dickens, and Dostoevsky the supremely great novelists of the nineteenth century. He draws between the writer of one outstanding novel, and what he terms a true novelist-an epic master, the creator of an almost unending series of pre-eminent romances. The novelist in this higher sense is endowed with encyclopedic genius, is a universal artist, who constructs a cosmos, peopling it with types of his own making, giving it laws of gravity that are unique to these figures.

Each of the novelists featured in Zweig's book has created his own sphere: Balzac, the world of society; Dickens, the world of the family; Dostoevsky, the world of the One and of the All. A comparison of these spheres serves to prove their differences. Zweig does not put a valuation on the differences, or emphasize the national element in the artist, whether in a spirit of sympathy or antipathy. Every great creator is a unity in himself, with its own boundaries and specific gravity. There is only one specific gravity possible within a single work, and no absolute criterion in the sales of justice. This is the measure of Zweig, and the message of this book.

About the Author, Laurence Mintz

Stefan Zweig
Stefan Zweig (1881—1942) spent his youth studying philosophy and the history of literature in Vienna and belonged to a pan-European cultural circle that included Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Richard Strauss. In 1934, under National Socialism, Zweig fled Austria for England, where he authored several novels, short stories, and biographies. In 1941 Zweig and his second wife traveled to Brazil, where they both committed suicide. NYRB Classics published his novels Chess Story and Beware of Pity.

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Editorials

From the Publisher

“Long out of print, [Balzac, Dickens, Dostoevsky: Master Builders of the Spirit] features a new and informative introduction by Laurence Mintz who is their senior editor and currently directing a new series on European Cultural Studies. Zweig chose Balzac, Dickens, and Dostoevsky for his studies because the first drew from society for his subject matter, the second from the family, and their third from what Zweig described as 'of the One and of the All'. He drew comparisons, noted differences, and provided a wealth of insights and occasional iconoclastic observations that continue to have significant relevance to the study of these three men's literary work. "Balzac, Dickens, and Dostoevsky" is the first of a proposed three volume series which will prove to be a valued and important addition to academic library Literary Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists.” — Midwest Review

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