The World of Yesterday

  • by Stefan Zweig, Anthea Bell - translator
  • Narrated by David Horovitch
  • 17 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Stefan Zweig's memoir, The World of Yesterday, recalls the golden age of prewar Europe - its seeming permanence, its promise and its devastating fall with the onset of two world wars. Zweig's passionate, evocative prose paints a stunning portrait of an era that danced brilliantly on the brink of extinction. It is an unusually humane account of Europe from the closing years of the 19th century through to World War II, seen through the eyes of one of the most famous writers of his era. Zweig's books (novels, biographies, essays) were translated into numerous languages, and he moved in the highest literary circles; he also encountered many leading political and social figures of his day.
The World of Yesterday is a remarkable, totally engrossing history. This translation by the award-winning Anthea Bell captures the spirit of Zweig's writing in arguably his most important work, completed shortly before his tragic death in 1942. It is read with sympathy and understanding by David Horovitch.

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What the Critics Say

"One of the greatest memoirs of the twentieth century." (David Hare)
"Zweig's celebration of the brotherhood of peoples reminds us that there is another way." (The Nation)

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This is a sensational document which could lead to a significant shift in how non-verbal autistic people (in Naoki Higashida’s words neuro-atypicals) are treated. Hagashida’s writing (carried out laboriously by means of an alphabet board) is introduced by the novelist David (Cloud Atlas) Mitchell who translated Fall Down 7 Times, Get up 8 with his Japanese wife Keiko Yoshida. The Mitchells’ intense involvement with Higashida’s writing springs from their experience of raising an autistic non-verbal son who displays the same epic meltdowns and ferocious head-banging as Higashida has done. With Thomas Judd, David Mitchell reads the work with skill and empathy so that although this is a translation, you can belive this is Hagashida’s voice.
What Higashida shows through his writing is that the Japanese term for autism which translates as ‘self-locked-up disease’ is wrong. Now nineteen, he talks to us directly, asking for our understanding and advising us how we can reach and best help people like him. Perhaps his strongest message is: don’t think that because we can’t communicate in words that we are incapable of comprehension – talk to us. Mitchell took this advice and spoke to his son ‘normally’ with great improvements in his autistic behaviours. Higashida leads us inside his head so that we can understand how complex the world is for him; how meltdowns and sleeve-biting are signs of his anger and frustrations with himself; how he is not closed in and unimaginative and incapable of empathy as is generally thought, and people need to see that despite the apparently useless strangled sounds he makes, he is open, grievously isolated and lonely, kind, loving and deeply appreciative of his family. The moment he manages after years to say ‘buy’ and ‘carnation’ to his carer by painstakingly joining links in his brain and so give his mother a Mother’s Day gift is very moving. When you see such a child not able to laugh with others, it isn’t because he has no sense of humour (he has), but because the contortions of the face when people laugh is frightening, just as when he wrinkles his face before the mirror he cannot recognise himself.
Higashida’s plea is that his book will change people’s attitudes and if just one neuro-atypical child is helped in the agony of his non-verbal existence because someone has read this book, his efforts will have been worth-while.
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- Rachel Redford

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-05-2017
  • Publisher: Ukemi Audiobooks