Stefan Zweig

28 Nov 1881 // 23 Feb 1942


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For vanity, too, inebriates; gratitude, too, intoxicates; tenderness, too, can blissfully confuse the senses.
States of profound happiness, like all other forms of intoxication, are apt to befuddle the wits; intense enjoyment of the present always makes one forget the past.
No envy is more mean than that of small-minded beings when they see a neighbor lifted, as though borne aloft by angels, out of the dull drudgery of their common existence; petty spirits are more ready to forgive a prince the most fabulous wealth than a fellow-sufferer beneath the same yoke the smallest degree of freedom.
It is only the immeasurable, the limitless that terrifies us. That which is set within defined, fixed limits is a challenge to our powers, comes to be the measure of our strength.
Our decisions are to a much greater extent dependent on our desire to conform to the standards of our class and environment than we are inclined to admit. A considerable proportion of our reasoning is merely an automatic function, so to speak, of influences and impressions which have become part of us...
For the first time I began to perceive that true sympathy cannot be switched on and off like an electric current, that anyone that identifies himself with the fate of another is robbed to some extent of his own freedom.
It always demands a far greater degree of courage for an individual to oppose an organized movement than to let himself be carried along with the stream � individual courage, that is, a variety of courage that is dying out in these times of progressive organization and mechanization.
Exalt yourself by devoting yourself to others, enrich yourself by making everyone�s destiny your own, by enduring and understanding every facet of human suffering through your pity.
But theoretical, imagined suffering is not what distresses a man and destroys his peace of mind. Only what you have seen with pitying eyes can really shake you.
It is never until one realizes that one means something to others that one feels there is any point or purpose in one�s own existence.
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On Anger: "For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind."
On Destiny: "Our destiny exercises its influence over us even when, as yet, we have not learned its nature: it is our future that lays down the law of our today."
Human, All Too Human
On Friendship: "A crowd is not company; and faces are but a gallery of pictures; and talk but a tinkling cymbal, where there is no love."