Stefan Zweifel was born in 1967 in Zurich, Switzerland. After studying philosophy, comparative literature, and Egyptology, he wrote his dissertation, working with Michael Pfister, on Donatien Alphonse François de Sade, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, and the French doctor and philosopher Julien Offray de La Mettrie. The two also collaborated on a new translation, which Zweifel began when he was just 17, of two of the Marquis de Sade’s principal works, »Justine« and »Juliette.« The 10-volumes were published between 1990 and 2002, and made the translator famous. In addition to organizing exhibitions on Dadaism and surrealism, Zweifel consulted for the trilingual cultural magazine »Gazzetta« until 2004.
Zweifel’s writing on theater, music, literature, and dance has been published in the »Neue Zürcher Zeitung« and »Weltwoche,« among others, and in »Literaturen« magazine. In 2005, the author caused a stir with his article »Houellebecqs Alptraum« (Houellebecq’s nightmare) in Berlin’s »Magazin.« He revealed a fantasy he had driving around the Ruhr valley with the controversial French writer, in which he threw the sleeping Houellebecq out as a »deliverance for everyone / and perhaps jump right after him.« In a 2013 interview with Switzerland’s »Medienwoche,« Zweifel said it was a shame there weren’t more such unusual texts, and that he puts his writing somewhere on the fluid border between journalism and literature. »The question is whether there are also rules that foster creativity. If the rules are very big, a lot of creative freedom can arise when you undercut, circumvent, or play with them […] On the other hand, it rapidly becomes boring to do everything by the rules. You have to keep on breaking them.« Zweifel was on the panel of the Swiss TV program »Literaturclub« from 2007 until May 2014, which also aired on Germany’s 3sat. In 2012, he took over from journalist Iris Radisch as moderator.
Zweifel translated Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s »Les rêveries du promeneur solitaire« (»Träumereien eines einsam Schweifenden«, 2012), Raymond Roussel’s »Locus Solus« (2012) and »Moravagine« by Blaise Cendrars (2014) from French into German, among others. In 2007, Zweifel was a contributing author to the catalogue for the exhibit »The International Situationist: 1957–1972. In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni« at Switzerland’s Museum Tinguely. He won the 2009 Berlin prize for literary criticism and the 2011 Zuger translation prize. A further collaboration with Michael Pfister produced the 2015 »Shades of Sade,« an introduction to the work of the Marquis de Sade, of whom he noted, »perhaps Sade is so current again because we’re now immersing ourselves in his world.« The author lives in Zurich.