The Future Past Perfect

Stefan and Lotte Zweig's South American Letters: New York, Argentina and Brazil, 1940-42
edited by Darien J. Davis  and Oliver Marshall
Continuum, 224 pp., $24.95

In 1941 Stefan Zweig, the prolific genre-jumping Austrian writer, wrote to Manfred and Hannah Altmann, his wife Lotte's brother and sister-in-law, about his impressions of Bahia, Brazil:

          You cannot imagine what it means to see this country which is not yet spoiled by tourists and so
          enormously interesting—today I was in the huts of the poor people which live here practically from
          nothing (the bananas and mandiocas are growing round) and the children go like in paradise—the
          whole house with ground did cost them six dollars and so they are proprietors for ever. It is a good  
          lesson to see how simply one can live and comparatively happy-a lesson to us all, who will loose every
          thing and are not enough happy now by the thought how to live then.

Zweig's mistakes in grammar and spelling reflect the fact that the letter, like all those compiled in Stefan and Lotte Zweig's South American Letters, were written in English to avoid being seized by censors in Great Britain where the Altmanns lived.

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