Beware of Pity
After Thomas Mann, Stefan Zweig was perhaps the most well-known and widely read author writing in German before the Nazi period. Beware of Pity was written in Zweig's London exile in 1938, and although it is above all a psychological novel whose tragedy unfolds in the private realms, Zweig's humanistic perspective provides a commentary on the larger historical and political situation.
The main action is set in 1914 in the months leading up to World War I. Anton Hofmiller, an officer in the Austro-Hungarian Army, consents to marry Edith, the crippled daughter of a wealthy local family. Immediately regretting his assent, remorseful yet refusing responsibility, he denies the news of his engagement to his comrades. His weakness of character and his selfish, superficial pity for Edith drive the woman to commit suicide and break her father's heart.
"Original and powerful. . . . Stefan Zweig is a brilliant writer." --New York Times Book Review