Fantastic Night Book Summary – Stefan Zweig

Fantastic Night Book Summary - Stefan Zweig
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“Fantastic Night” is a short story written by the Austrian author Stefan Zweig. First published in 1922, the story is known for its focus on themes such as love, passion, and betrayal. “Fantastic Night” narrates the story of a young man who falls in love with a woman he meets at a party and is drawn into an evening filled with unexpected events.

Summary of Fantastic Night Book

The story begins with the author examining the memories of a cavalry officer who has fallen as a martyr. Stefan Zweig publishes these memories under the title Fantastic Night with his name slightly changed.

When we transition to the main story, the focus is on Baron Friedrich, who is thirty-six years old in 1913. Friedrich makes a living from the inheritance of his deceased family. Due to the inheritance, he retires from the military profession and lives on his own terms. The inheritance from his noble family allows Friedrich to be an aristocrat. Now, the only thing he is interested in is his luxurious lifestyle. Among the things he loves to do are collecting rare pieces from antique dealers and being the first to buy the popular books of the time.

He also approaches women with a special interest. Women are very important to him. However, living carefree for a while and eventually Friedrich falls into a deep crisis. The lack of any excitement, and the simplification and emotional numbness of existing excitement lead Friedrich to a long period of stagnation. He begins to feel disgusted even with the things he used to enjoy.

This course of events changes with an extraordinary night he is about to experience. Friedrich leaves the house and randomly gets on a horse-drawn carriage. The coachman, thinking he is going to the horse races, takes him there. Friedrich, who never used to miss a race before the stagnant period, finds himself once again in this hustle and bustle.

The people screaming and shouting affect Friedrich, who feels the excitement he hasn’t felt for a long time. At that moment, Friedrich steals a coupon from a fat man. The horse whose name is on the stolen coupon wins, and Friedrich takes all the winnings. The excitement he experiences while committing this theft drives him to buy more tickets and win more.

However, this situation also burdens him after a while. In a gloomy mood, Friedrich goes to the fair in the city. The public, not used to the presence of a nobleman among them, keeps their distance. After wandering alone for a while, Friedrich is approached by a prostitute. Friedrich gives her a large amount of money and also gives a significant amount to the men who want to set a trap with the prostitute and rob him. This somehow makes him very happy.

After that evening, he develops a desire to help everyone. He gives tips to people, throws money inside homes through windows, and buys all the balloons from a balloon seller. After that evening, Friedrich’s long-standing crisis comes to an end. Continuing his life as a happy person, Friedrich never feels lonely and unhappy again, thanks to the help he provides.

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