Der Neue Mensch in Brasilien. Über den Schatten Nietzsches in Stefan Zweigs Land der Zukunft

Jeroen Dewulf


One of the many enigmas related to Stefan Zweig’s final months in Brazil is the overly positive portrayal of his country of exile in Brasilien. Ein Land der Zukunft (1941). Was this because he did not know the country well enough to be able to look beyond its beautiful façade? Could the aristocratic character of the book be interpreted as a sign that, plagued by nostalgia, Zweig had tried to regenerate the bygone Austrian Empire in the Brazilian tropics? Or were the many parallels to Getúlio Vargas’s propagandistic image of Brazil signs that Zweig had been trying to obtain favors for himself or other Jewish refugees by rendering a service to the Fascist dictator? This article denies such insinuations and offers a different explanation by focusing on two works that influenced Zweig in his portrayal of Brazil: Gilberto Freyre’s Casa-grande & senzala (The Masters and the Slaves, 1933) and Sérgio Buarque de Holanda’s Raízes do Brasil (Roots of Brazil, 1936). It claims that the vision of Brazil as “land of the future” was not a Zweigian but rather a Brazilian creation with German-American roots, whose prophetic and aristocratic character can be traced back to Henry Mencken’s reading of Friedrich Nietzsche. (JD; in German)

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