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By J. E. Luebering

Cause, rationality, and reform have been possibly the largest buzzwords of the Enlightenment period and the topics of a lot of the writing that seemed at the moment. As thinkers more and more started turning a serious eye in the direction of authorized ideals and practices, such luminaries as Voltaire, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Paine took up their pens to light up the social injustices and accidents to non-public freedom that pervaded their societies. The attention-grabbing lives of those writers and plenty of others-running the gamut from novelists, dramatists, and poets to satirists, social critics, and more-are profiled inside those pages.

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Extra info for Authors of the Enlightenment: 1660 to 1800 (The Britannica Guide to Authors)

Sample text

Great, then, was his astonishment when, at the appointed hour and place, the Café Griensteidl in Vienna, a grammar-school boy in short trousers appeared before him and introduced himself. The word “wunderkind” sprang inevitably to mind. Zweig’s own admiration and respect for the genius of Hofmannsthal, who was just seven years his senior, amounted to an almost unbounded reverence. So it was somewhat galling that Hofmannsthal, with whom he was in contact in later years by letter and in person, showed not the slightest interest in Zweig’s own writing and did not rate him much as a person either.

After the initial euphoria this ambitious project was hit by a number of setbacks: the stock market collapse of 1873 briefly shook the business world to its foundations, and a number of entrepreneurs were plunged into ruin by the financial crisis. But the Zweig family appears not to have suffered any significant losses. Moriz Zweig’s retiring ways were manifested not only in his business dealings, but also in his private life. He never played a prominent role in professional or business associations or on the city’s social circuit.

So it was somewhat galling that Hofmannsthal, with whom he was in contact in later years by letter and in person, showed not the slightest interest in Zweig’s own writing and did not rate him much as a person either. As a young author Zweig had readily taken to letter-writing as a means of communication. He kept up a steady stream of correspondence, not just to request autographs from writers, but also to obtain all kinds of information about the literature of the day. And many of his letters were concerned with the publication of his own works.

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