Wednesday, the 6th of April, and time for Shelf Control once again! Shelf Control is a weekly feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and celebrates the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles/mountains. To participate, all you do is pick a book from your TBR pile, and write a post about it–what its about, why you want to read it, when you got it, and such. If you participate, don’t forget to link back to Lisa’s page, and do also leave your links in the comments below as I’d love to check out your picks as well!
Today my pick is a biography by Stefan Zweig, Montaigne, published first in German in 1960 and one of his last works before his suicide. Born in Austria in 1881, Zweig was the author of novels, plays, biographies and journalistic pieces and one of the ‘world’s best known’ writers in the 1920s and 1930s. Educated in Austria, France and Germany, he was living in Salzburg before being forced into exile by the Nazis. He moved to England, then Brazil and finally, New York. His subtle portrayal of characters in his works is attributed to his interest in psychology and particularly, Freud.
Montaigne is described as ‘Zweig’s typically passionate and readable biography of Michel de Montaigne’. In the book, Zwieg raises arguments for ‘intellectual freedom, tolerance and humanism’ drawing parallels between Montaigne’s time and his own–where Catholicism and Protestantism in the former and Fascism and Communism in the latter were destroying the liberal culture he loved. He defends freedom of thought and argues for peace and compromise. The edition I have is a Pushkin Press paperback published in 2015 and translated by poet, essayist and literary translator Will Stone, who has also written the introduction. At the back of my copy is this quote
He who thinks freely for himself, honours all freedom on earth
I had wanted to read Zweig’s bios of which I had heard quite a bit, but this specific one was just a random pick to start with. But looking at the themes that this touches upon (freedom of thought, intellectual freedom, and more so, tolerance), what stands out is its relevance in the present day as well. I am certainly looking forward to picking this one up, though I think possibly German Literature Month later in the year will end up being when I actually do.
Have you read Zweig’s books–fiction, bios or both? Which are your favourites if any? Looking forward to your thoughts and recommendations!
Lisa’s pick this week is Home Baked: My Mom, Marijuana and the Stoning of San Francisco by Alia Volz, the memoir of a woman who’s mom provided medical marijuana via marijuana brownies for thousands of AIDS patients in San Francisco.