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This article is taken from PN Review 206, Volume 38 Number 6, July - August 2012.

Zweig's Café Goes Online David Herman
In his memoir, The World of Yesterday, Stefan Zweig evokes the lost culture of fin-de-siècle Vienna. Nothing is more remote from today's London or New York than his account of the Viennese coffee house of his youth. There, for the price of a cup of coffee, customers had access not just to all the Viennese newspapers, but to all the newspapers 'of the entire German Reich, as well as the French, British, Italian and American papers, and all the major literary and artistic international magazines, the Mercure de France as well as the Neue Rundschau, the Studio, and the Burlington Magazine. So we knew everything that was going on in the world at first hand, we heard about every book that came out, every theatrical performance wherever it took place, and we compared the reviews in all the newspapers.'1

Zweig's memoir was published in 1942 and translated into English in 1943. For over half a century, such a culture was inconceivable in the English-speaking world. The reading room of the London Library, with its hundreds of international journals, is the nearest equivalent to Zweig's vanished treasure houses, but today that costs an annual membership of over £400 - and no coffee.

Now, for the cost of a laptop, that has all changed. The internet has transformed our culture.One of the most positive changes is what the internet has done to book reviewing. It is now possible to access book reviews online from all over the world. We ...


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