Read By: Sheila Heti

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Sheila Heti on her selection:

I chose a chapter from Stefan Zweig’s The World of Yesterday, which he wrote between 1934 and 1941. It is one of the most fascinating and vivid descriptions I have ever read—not only of what Victorian manners and morals were like, but what it feels like to have lived through history, in particular the great political and social upheavals that occurred between his birth in Vienna in 1881 and his death in 1942. He gave his publisher the typewritten manuscript of this memoir the day before he and his wife died, by suicide. Zwieg grew up in a prosperous Jewish family, and this is the world he is writing about. I found in these pages one of the greatest and most fascinating and sensitive eyewitness accounts of history I have ever read. I love the details. I love the feeling that I am seeing the truth about another world with such intimacy. This chapter has stayed with me since I first encountered it years ago. I am at about the age he was when he wrote it, and though I don’t think the changes I have witnessed have been as dramatic, I feel I know what it’s like to remember a lost world, and to set now against then and to weigh all of it up.

The World of Yesterday by Stefan Zweig

Music: "Shift of Currents" by Blue Dot Sessions // CC BY-NC 2.0

84 episode