The World of Yesterday, an autobiography by Stefan Zweig, was written after he left his hometown Austria in 1933 owing to Hitler's rising power in Germany. Zweig didn't finish the book until the day before he and his second wife committed suicide in Brazil in February, 1942, during the period of the Second World War. Though the book is an autobiography, it mainly focuses on the course of an age, a generation of his age, not a portrait of his own life. Zweig described himself an Austrian, a Jew, an author, a humanist, and a pacifist. He was forced to be a witness of the peace in Europe, the outbreak and the end of the First World War(1914-1918), and the beginning of the Second World War(1939-1945). I will demonstrate the author's perspective of the war history and how the autobiography is related to the world war.
Stefan Zweig witnessed the peace and prosperity in Europe, completed his education and established his prospective toward wars. Zweig was born in a wealthy Jewish family in Vienna, Austria, in 1881. His father made his fortune by founding a small weaving mill in Northern Bohemia in his thirties and developing it into a considerable enterprise. Zweig attributed his natural love to freedom to the personality of his father, moderate courtesy and entirely ungreedy. Having the same inherent pride as his father did, Zweig rejected every honor in the physical form, including medal and title. After he obtained the doctor degree and terminate his university career, he made up his mind to devote himself in literature, feeling was finally outwardly free and remained equally free inwardly. Later on, he started his journey in Paris as a gift for the first year of his newly won freedom. From 1904 to 1914, he traveled around Europe, and thought to himself, "I gradually become a European." Also, He became friends with Alfred Walter Heymel, Romain Rolland, and Rainer Maria Rilke who left deep impression on him.