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The Brazilian Exile of Vilém Flusser and Stefan Zweig

In this article, I outline the history of Jewish exile to Brazil during the 1930s and 1940s, and I compare Vilém Flusser’s philosophy of immigration and Stefan Zweig’s last work of fiction, Schachnovelle. Flusser and Zweig shared a similar dialectical form of thinking, and yet Zweig’s novella expressed the failure of finding a synthesis due to exile while Flusser found the synthesis in the experience of immigration itself. Flusser’s philosophy of immigration is not clearly applicable to those who are not in his same situation, since he places awareness, disengagement, and transcendence at a key position. His emphasis may not be applicable to all refugees, transnational immigrants, and border crossers; however, Zweig was one of those in a similar situation as Flusser. Like many of Zweig’s novellas, the framework of Schachnovelle is constructed around a number of opposites and their possible reconciliations and yet these various attempts to bring together the opposites all fail. Flusser’s philosophy is a positive one that has incredibly strong features, yet its limitations show up in an analysis of Zweig’s work and point to the need for further work in the philosophy of immigration.

Brazilian Exile (PDF 123.47 KB)