Stefan Zweig must be a crazy sadist were he still alive. He could doom the tragic destiny of a 13-year-old girl with soul filled of seriousness and ardour in the book LETTER FROM AN UNKNOWN WOMAN, wrote down her complicated and tangled emotions so enthusiastically and carefully. If the story were realized, Zweig was pretty much like a murderer that took enormous pleasure from the dying victim and trampled on the most simple but sincere emotion of mankind – love.
There’s indeed such masochism in real life, LETTER FROM AN UNKNOWN WOMAN just exaggerated the sick psychology immensely nonetheless made it more vivid and clear. The heroine fell in love with an amorous man to the core at the age of 13, and desperately desired his responds and touches. The mix of mental coercion and delight in dedication drove her into abyss of extreme pain and utmost satisfaction for ages. Gone with her beautiful appearance and her beloved child, she expressed her deep love to the man in her last letter for the first time, and soon ended her life and her unrequited love.
But did this love simply end up a tragedy? Personally I don’t so. No one can deny that the all of dedications made by the heroine are based on voluntariness, besides she truly took immense but surreal pleasure through autosadism. Overriding oneself and dedicating to the other, her love winded up sadly but fantastically. She dared to dedicate herself and require no return, neither judged the romance by results nor took marriage as the ultimate goal of love, in fact, plenty of people still can’t accept her advanced ideology even for now. What’s more, distance brings about beauty, only sort of strangeness could make the man seemed as fascinating as an inaccessible illusion, how can I force her to express her love to break her surreal dream? Besides she’s been tasting the vicissitudes of love and life all alone, weathered the torture of emotions as well as changes of life, how brave and romantic then she must be!
“Probably any man once loved two women, one is called the white rose, the other is called the red rose. As he marries the red one, she becomes the mosquito blood on the floor on summer nights, the white’s still the bright moonlight; as he marries the white one, she becomes a rice ball sticking on the sleeves, the red’s still a lovely red mole in his heart.” In the novel of Zhang Ailing, the white rose stands for the sacred spouse, and the red rose symbolises the passionate mistress, but Zhang insists the white rose is finally married. Can’t the red rose match the white one? Can the same deep love towards two women be judged simply by the results? But due to the cruel result, I tend to sympathize with the red rose personally, hope it can find own beloved one. If the reality turns out contrary to my wish, the withering red roses are however victorious in terms of mental romance.
I constantly think about what Geoffrey Chaucer said:
If Love lives not, Oh God, what feel I so?
And if Love lives, what thing and which is he?
If Love is good, from where has come my woe?
Forgive I’m still too naive and superficial to give an accurate definition of love, but arbitrarily I conclude that her strong feeling of pain and pleasure is all due to love, the unfair treatment of live she’s received is all attributed to love, the woe she’s been tasting is all because of love. Just a simple stare to the man at the age of 13, how could she predict such an astonishing consequence? Countless questions on love have been raised for thousands of years and there’s yet no key, but Zweig must give us such a cruel and satiric answer. To be frank, I love the answer and love the romantic heroine, for she keeps reminding me that love’s an important part of life but not the ultimate goal.
Sigmund Freud once gave a definition on autosadism in his book, claiming that the autosadism starts from the hide-and-seek in childhood. We all used to shiver in the dark, feeling frightened as well as excited when adults find us. This is the embryo of autosadism. As this inevitable flaw of mankind clashes with the most delicate emotion in the world, I find the we’re just like the heroine, the heroine is just like us.
According to the definition of dictionary, love means sexual activities (often including sexual intercourse) between two people. If so, the heroine’s one-sided love can’t even be called as love then. I can’t bear the cruel result as Zweig did, and find a soothing explanation – I love you, but it has nothing to do with you. No matter it’s a
truth examined by couples or only a comforting excuse, as long as she can pass away in the novel peacefully, as least I can get a little superficial comfort, to soothe my disturbed conscience.