Beware of Pity is a novel which explores the complex hidden recesses of emotion. In 1913 a young second lieutenant discovers the terrible dangers of pity and eventually flees from them into the battlefield. His involvement begins with a faux pas: he had no idea the girl was lame when he asked to dance. Paying her an occasional afternoon call seemed to give him a new sense of purpose and he did not notice how imperceptibly bound up with tenderness his concern might be. The girl's face brightened, her father doted, the young man's self-esteem rose. But he was gradually to learn that pity, like morphia, is only at first a solace to the invalid and unless one knows the exact dosage, and when to stop, it can become a virulent poison. Beware of Pity is Stephan Zweig's only novel and is a devastatingly unindulgent realisation of the torment of the betrayal of both honour and love, set against the background of the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Original title: Ungeduld des Herzens
Genre: Fiction→ Historical→ World War I
Fiction→ General Fiction→ Literary Fiction/classics