Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Stefan Zweig

Austrian Author, Novelist, Playwright, Journalist and Biographer

"Beneath the yoke of barbarism one must not keep silence; one must fight. Whoever is silent at such a time is a traitor to humanity."

"Great moments are always outside of time."

"It is only delusion, not knowledge, that bestows happiness."

"Health alone does not suffice. To be happy, to become creative, man must always be strengthened by faith in the meaning of his own existence."

"It is a consoling fact that, in the end, the moral independence of mankind remains indestructible. Never has it been possible for a dictatorship to enforce one religion or one philosophy upon the whole world. Nor will it ever be possible, for the spirit always escapes from servitude; refuses to think in accordance with prescribed forms, to become shallow and supine at the word of command, to allow uniformity to be permanently imposed upon it."

"The eternal secret of all great art, yes of every mortal achievement... Concentration."

"A word is nothing unless it has values and an atmosphere, unless you grasp its historical significance."

"A first premonition of the rich variety of life had come to him; for the first time he thought he had understood the nature of human beings - they needed each other even when they appeared hostile, and it was very sweet to be loved by them."

"Adultery is in most cases a theft in the dark. At such moments almost every woman betrays her husband's innermost secrets; becomes a Delilah who discloses to a stranger, discloses to her lover, the mysteries of her husband's strength or weakness. What seems to me treason is, not that women give themselves, but that a woman is prone, when she does so, to justify herself to herself by uncovering her husband's nakedness, exposing it to the inquisitive and scornful gaze of a stranger."

"Against my will, I became a witness to the most terrible defeat of reason and to the most savage triumph of brutality ever chronicled ... never before did a generation suffer such a moral setback after it had attained such intellectual heights."

"But everyone is in the shade but also the last child of the light, and find out just who is light and dark, war and peace, rise and fall, but has truly lived."

"But often the presence of mind and energy of a person remote from the spotlight decide the course of history for centuries to come."

"But, in history, practical usefulness never determines the moral value of an achievement. Only the person who increases the knowledge humanity has about itself and enhances its creative consciousness permanently enriches humanity."

"Can he explained that certain individuals, who do not even know how to swim, try to jump from the top of a bridge to save someone who is drowning? These individuals simply move to a magical force pulses, a force impels them before they have time to realize is foolishly reckless, and just like that, without thinking, without conscious thought, I kept to that unfortunate from the living Casino game lobby and from the lobby to the terrace."

"Courage is often nothing more than reversed weakness."

"Decisive inventions and discoveries always are initiated by an intellectual or moral stimulus as their actual motivating force, but, usually, the final impetus to human action is given by material impulses ... merchants stood as a driving force behind the heroes of the age of discovery; this first heroic impulse to conquer the world emanated from very mortal forces"

"Anyone who has ever found himself, cannot lose in this world anymore."

"Being sent to bed is a terrible command to all children, because it means the most public possible humiliation in front of adults, the confession that they bear the stigma of childhood, of being small and having a child's need for sleep."

"Besides, isn't it confoundedly easy to think you're a great man if you aren't burdened with the slightest idea that Rembrandt, Beethoven, Dante or Napoleon ever lived?"

"As I walked home I noticed all of a sudden in front of me my own shadow as I saw the shadow of another war behind the current one. He is gone through all this time not by me this shadow hanging over my every thought he day and night may be dark outline is also on some pages of this book. But every shadow is in the past but also a child of light; and only those who climb light and dark war and peace, and fall out of the only truly lived."

"Everything in life that deviates from the straight and, so to speak, normal line, makes people first curious and then indignant."

"Erasmus was the light of his century; others were its strength: he lighted the way; others knew how to walk on it while he himself remained in the shadow as the source of light always does. But he who points the way into a new era is no less worthy of veneration than he who is the first to enter it; those who work invisibly have also accomplished a feat."

"Even from the abyss of horror in which we try to feel our way today, half-blind, our hearts distraught and shattered, I look up again and again to the ancient constellations that shone on my childhood, comforting myself with the inherited confidence that, some day, this relapse will appear only an interval in the eternal rhythm of progress onward and upward."

"Fate is never too generous even to its favorites. Rarely do the gods grant a mortal more than one immortal deed."

"Fear is a distorting mirror in which anything can appear as a caricature of itself, stretched to terrible proportions; once inflamed, the imagination pursues the craziest and most unlikely possibilities. What is most absurd suddenly seems the most probable."

"For this quiet, unprepossessing, passive man who has no garden in front of his subsidized flat, books are like flowers. He loves to line them up on the shelf in multicolored rows: he watches over each of them with an old-fashioned gardener's delight, holds them like fragile objects in his thin, bloodless hands."

"Every wave, regardless of how high and forceful it crests, must eventually collapse within itself."

"Each of us, even the lowliest and most insignificant among us, was uprooted from his innermost existence by the almost constant volcanic upheavals visited upon our European soil and, as one of countless human beings, I can."

"For I regard memory not as a phenomenon preserving one thing and losing another merely by chance, but as a power that deliberately places events in order or wisely omits them. Everything we forget about our own lives was really condemned to oblivion by an inner instinct long ago."

"For the more a man limits himself, the nearer he is on the other hand to what is limitless; it is precisely those who are apparently aloof from the world who build for themselves a remarkable and thoroughly individual world in miniature, using their own special equipment, hermit-like."

"Freedom is not possible without authority - otherwise it would turn into chaos and authority is not possible without freedom - otherwise it would turn into tyranny."

"Gratitude makes us happy because they are rare occasions when we are made ??visible delicacy all we produce a salutary effect, and for me, cold and measured nature, feeling that glut meant something new, enjoyable and most happy."

"He was welcome everywhere he went, and was well-aware of his inability to tolerate solitude. He felt no inclination to be alone and avoided it as far as possible; he didn't really want to become any better acquainted with himself. He knew that if he wanted to show his talents to best advantage, he needed to strike sparks off other people to fan the flames of warmth and exuberance in his heart. On his own he was frosty, no use to himself at all, like a match left lying in its box."

"He was the kind of young man whose handsome face has brought him plenty of success in the past and is now ever-ready for a new encounter, a fresh-experience, always eager to set off into the unknown territory of a little adventure, never taken by surprise because he has worked out everything in advance and is waiting to see what happens, a man who will never overlook any erotic opportunity, whose first glance probes every woman's sensuality, and explores it, without discriminating between his friend's wife and the parlor-maid who opens the door to him. Such men are described with a certain facile contempt as lady-killers, but the term has a nugget of truthful observation in it, for in fact all the passionate instincts of the chase are present in their ceaseless vigilance: the stalking of the prey, the excitement and mental cruelty of the kill. They are constantly on the alert, always ready and willing to follow the trail of an adventure to the very edge of the abyss. They are full of passion all the time, but it is the passion of a gambler rather than a lover, cold, calculating and dangerous. Some are so persistent that their whole lives, long after their youth is spent, are made an eternal adventure by this expectation. Each of their days is resolved into hundreds of small sensual experiences - a look exchanged in passing, a fleeting smile, knees brushing together as a couple sit opposite each other - and the year, in its own turn, dissolves into hundreds of such days in which sensuous experience is the constantly flowing, nourishing, inspiring source of life."

"He was, like everyone of a strongly erotic disposition, twice as good, twice as much himself when he knew that women liked him, just as many actors find their most ardent vein when they sense that they have cast their spell over the audience, the breathing mass of spectators before them."

"He who studies without passion will never become anything more than a pedant."

"How terrible this darkness was, how bewildering, and yet mysteriously beautiful!"

"I regard memory not as a phenomenon preserving one thing and losing another merely by chance, but as a power that deliberately places events in order or wisely omits them. Everything we forget about our own lives was really condemned to oblivion by an inner instinct long ago."

"I, who unfortunately for me I always had a passionate curiosity for the things of the mind ..."

"Heroic ages are not and never were sentimental and those daring conquistadores who conquered entire worlds for their Spain or Portugal received lamentably little thanks from their kings."

"Immanuel Kant lived with knowledge as with his lawfully wedded wife, slept with it in the same intellectual bed for forty years and begot an entire German race of philosophical systems."

"If you are going to sell yourself, you should at least get a good price."

"In history, the moments during which reason and reconciliation prevail are short and fleeting."

"In history as in human life, regret does not bring back a lost moment and a thousand years will not recover something lost in a single hour."

"In chess, as a purely intellectual game, where randomness is excluded, - for someone to play against himself is absurd."

"In some mysterious way, once one has gained an insight into human nature, that insight grows from day to day, and he to whom it has given to experience vicariously even one single form of earthly suffering acquires, by reason of this tragic lesson, an understanding of all its forms, even those most foreign to him, and apparently abnormal."

"Isn't it confoundedly easy to think you're a great man if you aren't burdened with the slightest idea that Rembrandt, Beethoven, Dante or Napoleon ever lived?"

"In this instant, shaken to her very depths, this ecstatic human being has a first inkling that the soul is made of stuff so mysteriously elastic that a single event can make it big enough to contain the infinite."

"Interior did not hurt a bit quiet, but it was an auspicious pain, burning and burn it as wounds before they want to heal forever."

"It is a law of life that human beings, even the geniuses among them, do not pride themselves on their actual achievements but that they want to impress others, want to be admired and respected because of things of much lower import and value."