Clarissa is a short novel. It narrates the life of a young girl of great intelligence, who has had a childhood and adolescence with great affective deficiencies and who, influenced by her military father, has developed her capacity for observation, reasoning and synthesis. Clarisa is not appreciated by her father and left to her own fate at the age of twenty, she begins to work in Vienna with a neurologist. In 1914, before the start of the Great War, she meets a young Frenchman and they fall in love. The beginning of the war separates them and in a field hospital she discovers that she is going to have a child "who will belong to the enemy". Faced with the dilemma of having an abortion, she goes to the neurologist who takes her in and advises against it, but in order not to offend her father, she makes a fictitious marriage. The work is unfinished because of the author's departure from Vienna and was not published until after his death.
The novel reflects Clarissa's psychological profile, increased by the war. Stefan Zweig, a convinced pacifist, embodies the pacifist in the figure of Clarissa and the neurologist. This novel is a clear appeal for peace and condemnation of nationalism. Clarissa's personal tragedy, the perplexities of her spirit, represents that of a whole generation who were shocked and horrified by the modern war they believed to be brief.
Zweig's style is always attractive for its realism and elegance. The author expresses a clear rejection of abortion and defends the rights of the unborn (despite the stigma of being a single mother). Stefan Zweig was an Austrian intellectual of Jewish origin whose novels stand out for the depth of their psychological studies and their realistic settings.