Here is the second movement of John Davison's Sonata for Trombone and Piano. This is not my favorite interpretation but I could not find another one on youtube.
I found this book in the Boulder Bookstore in Colorado. I had heard about Zweig and was curious to read his work. If this is a good example I will be looking for more of his work.
Beware of Pity by Stefan Zweig
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book was quite powerful. I do not know when I have become so emotionally involved with a story. I found myself involuntarily having conversations with the characters, lecturing them on their fatal flaws.
This is a book about fatal flaws. Our protganist, Hofmiller, is an Austro-Hungarian cavalry officer stationed at a small village at the edge of the empire, in what would now be Hungary.
While there he encounters a wealthy family who welcomes him like a family member. Hofmiller is delighted while surprised and a little confused. Why have such important people included him so definitely into their life?
The story is written in first person so we hear every thought Hofmiller has as he tells his tale. The family's name is Kakesfalva and Herr von Kakesfalva practically adopts Hofmiller as a son and treasured guest.
Kakesfalva lives in a large estate, owns most of the property of the village and is kept company by his beautiful niece, Ilona, and his daughter, Edith.
What starts out as a pleasant break from his harsh existence as a soldier gradually turns into a psychological nightmare, making his life in the barracks as a carnival in comparison.
Edith is a teenager, maybe seventeen, and a few years ago, by some kind of staph infection, probably polio, lost the use of her legs. She has kept the household enslaved and miserable with her bitterness. Lashing the whip with threats of hurting herself. Her father and her cousin are completely in her thrall.
Hofmiller finds himself becoming ever more entangled in this unhappy family's affairs. At first he is invited simply to keep them company and provide diversion for an otherwise weary existence. But as time passes, it becomes evident that the family all expect more from him.
And here is the hero's fatal flaw. Even though he becomes more and more ill at ease visiting, he is afraid to extricate himself for fear that it would destroy Edith.
This story is a brilliant discourse on emotional manipulations. Not just the manipulators but people who allow themselves to become manipulated, all because of pity.
Hofmiller knows that pity is his only motivation for continuing his relationship with the family. He sees it and feels absolutely helpless. And by acting out of pity, he makes the situation worse and worse. In the end, he still does not see clearly. He thinks too poorly of the Kakesfalvas and too highly of his own ability to "save" Edith to do the right thing.
I do not want to give away the plot because there are some interesting and unexpected developments that take the reader deeper into the lives of each character.
But I will end with the last sentence of the book:
.."no guilt is forgotten as long as the conscience still knows of it."
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