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How to Read Amok and Other Works by Stefan Zweig in EPUB Format

Stefan Zweig's Amok: A Novella of Passion and Obsession


Have you ever heard of the term "amok"? It refers to a state of violent frenzy, in which a person attacks and kills anyone in their way, without regard for danger or consequences. The word comes from the Indonesian culture, where it was used to describe a rare phenomenon of homicidal mania. But what does this have to do with a novella by an Austrian author?

stefan zweig amok epub download

Amok is the title of a novella by Stefan Zweig, one of the most popular and influential writers of the 20th century. First published in 1922, Amok tells the story of a German doctor who becomes obsessed with a mysterious Englishwoman in colonial Indonesia, and how his passion leads him to ruin his life and commit suicide. As Zweig was fascinated and influenced by Sigmund Freud's work, Amok has clear psychoanalytic elements, exploring the themes of desire, repression, guilt, and madness.

But Amok is not only a psychological thriller. It is also a reflection on the colonial situation, the clash of cultures, and the power dynamics between men and women. It is also a masterpiece of literary style, using a frame narrative, a suspenseful plot, and a vivid language to create a captivating and unforgettable reading experience.

In this article, we will summarize and analyze Amok, and explain why it is still relevant and interesting today. We will also provide some information about Stefan Zweig, his life, and his other works.

Summary of Amok

The frame story

The novella begins with a frame story, in which an unnamed narrator travels from India to Europe on a cruise ship in 1912. One night, he meets a strange man on the deck, who avoids any social contact and seems disturbed and scared. The next night, the narrator encounters him again, and manages to gain his trust. The man then tells him his story, which forms the main part of the novella.

The main story

The man reveals that he is a doctor from Leipzig, who moved to Indonesia seven years ago to work as a medical officer for the Dutch colonial administration. He was sent to a small and remote village, where he felt lonely and bored. One day, he received an unexpected visit from a white woman - "the first white woman in years" - who fascinated him with her haughty and distant demeanor. She was an Englishwoman, married to a Dutch merchant.

The woman came to ask him for a discreet abortion, for which she was willing to pay him a large sum of money. She was pregnant by another man, and wanted to avoid any scandal or disgrace. However, the doctor, struck by a sudden passion, refused to take the money. Instead, he asked her to spend one night with him as his payment. He also told her to come back later at night, when no one would see her.

The woman was outraged by his proposal and left his house in anger. But the doctor's obsession grew stronger: he followed her to her home in the next town, where he stalked her and tried to make her change her mind. He also threatened to expose her secret if she did not comply with his demand. But she resisted his pressure and sought help from a native healer instead.

The abortion went wrong and the woman died in agony. Before dying, she made the doctor promise to do everything possible to prevent her husband or anyone else from finding out the truth about her death. The doctor agreed and issued a false death certificate, stating that she died of a fever. He also arranged for her body to be embalmed and shipped to Europe on the same cruise ship that he was on.

The tragic ending

The doctor then confessed to the narrator that he was determined to fulfill the woman's last wish, even if it meant sacrificing his career and pension. He also said that he felt a strange connection with the woman, even though he never knew her name or anything about her. He said that he was haunted by her image and voice, and that he could not live without her.

The next day, the narrator learned that the doctor had jumped overboard and drowned himself. He also found a letter from him, in which he explained his motives and asked for his forgiveness. The letter ended with these words: "I am running amok."

Analysis of Amok

The psychological themes

As we can see, Amok is a novella that explores the dark side of human psychology, especially the power of irrational and destructive passions. The doctor's obsession with the woman is not based on love or reason, but on a sudden and uncontrollable impulse that overrides his moral and professional principles. He does not care about the woman's feelings or situation, but only about his own desire and satisfaction.

The novella also shows how repression and guilt can lead to madness and suicide. The doctor is unable to cope with his emotions and actions, and feels tormented by remorse and shame. He is also isolated from society and has no friends or family to support him. He sees his death as the only way to escape from his suffering and to honor his promise to the woman.

Zweig was influenced by Freud's psychoanalytic theory, which explains human behavior in terms of unconscious drives, conflicts, and complexes. Zweig also had a personal interest in psychology, as he suffered from depression and anxiety throughout his life. He eventually committed suicide himself in 1942, together with his second wife, after fleeing from Nazi persecution.

The colonial context

Another aspect of Amok that deserves attention is the colonial context in which the story takes place. The novella depicts the contrast between the European and the native cultures, and the effects of colonialism on both sides. The doctor represents the typical colonial agent, who exploits and oppresses the indigenous people, while feeling superior and detached from them. He also shows contempt and racism towards them, calling them "monkeys" and "savages".

The woman, on the other hand, represents the colonial victim, who suffers from alienation and loneliness in a foreign land. She is trapped in an unhappy marriage with a man who does not love her or respect her. She is also vulnerable to the dangers of disease, violence, and scandal. She has no rights or choices, and has to rely on the mercy of men like the doctor or the native healer.

The novella also criticizes the hypocrisy and corruption of the colonial system, which allows crimes like abortion or murder to be covered up by money or lies. The doctor is able to falsify documents and bribe officials without any consequences. The woman's husband is unaware of her affair and death, and only cares about preserving his reputation and business interests.

The literary style

Finally, we should also appreciate Amok as a literary work, which demonstrates Zweig's skill as a storyteller and a stylist. The novella uses a frame narrative technique, which creates a sense of suspense and curiosity in the reader. The narrator acts as a mediator between the doctor and the reader, as well as a witness and a judge of his story.

The novella also has a fast-paced and dramatic plot, which keeps the reader engaged and interested. The story is full of twists and turns, surprises and revelations, climaxing in the tragic ending. The story also has a symbolic dimension, as it uses motifs like fire, water, night, fever, etc., to convey different emotions and meanings.

The novella also has a vivid and expressive language, which creates a rich and realistic atmosphere. Zweig uses descriptive details, metaphors, similes, dialogues, etc., to portray the characters' personalities, feelings, thoughts, etc. He also uses different registers and tones depending on the situation: formal or informal, polite or rude, calm or passionate.


What can we learn from Amok?

How can we appreciate Amok as a literary work?

Amok is also a novella that deserves our admiration and appreciation as a literary work. It shows us how Zweig was a master of the novella genre, which he considered to be the most suitable form for expressing his ideas and emotions. He was able to create a compact and intense story, with a clear structure, a captivating plot, and a powerful style. He was also able to combine different elements, such as psychology, history, culture, and literature, in a harmonious and coherent way.

Amok is one of Zweig's most famous and successful works, which has been translated into many languages and adapted into several films and plays. It is also one of his most representative works, which reflects his personal and artistic vision of the world. It is a work that challenges us to think and feel deeply about ourselves and others.


Here are some frequently asked questions about Amok and Stefan Zweig:



Where can I download Amok in epub format?

You can download Amok in epub format from various online sources, such as Project Gutenberg or However, you should always check the copyright status and the quality of the file before downloading it.

What are some other works by Stefan Zweig?

Zweig wrote many other works, including novels, novellas, biographies, essays, poems, and memoirs. Some of his most famous works are The Royal Game, Letter from an Unknown Woman, Beware of Pity, The World of Yesterday, and Chess Story.

Why did Zweig commit suicide?

Zweig committed suicide in 1942 in Brazil, where he had fled from Nazi persecution. He was depressed by the rise of fascism and the outbreak of World War II, which he saw as a betrayal of his humanist ideals and a destruction of his beloved European culture. He also felt lonely and hopeless in his exile. He left a note saying: "I greet all my friends! May they see the dawn after this long night! I am too impatient, I go before them."

How can I learn more about Zweig's life and work?

You can learn more about Zweig's life and work by reading his autobiography The World of Yesterday, which is considered to be one of the best memoirs of the 20th century. You can also read some of his biographies, such as Stefan Zweig: The World Before Yesterday by Oliver Matuschek or Stefan Zweig: An Illustrated Biography by George Prochnik.

What are some similar works to Amok?

If you liked Amok, you might also like some other works that deal with similar themes or styles. For example, you could read Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, which is also a frame narrative about a European's encounter with the dark side of colonialism. You could also read Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, which is also a story about a woman's unhappy marriage and her tragic affair. You could also read The Kreutzer Sonata by Leo Tolstoy, which is also a story about a man's jealousy and murder of his wife.



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