e99 Online Shopping Mall

Geometry.Net - the online learning center Help  
Home  - Authors - Roth Joseph (Books)

  1-20 of 99 | Next 20
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z  

click price to see details     click image to enlarge     click link to go to the store

1. Radetzkymarsch
2. Report from a Parisian Paradise:
3. The Wandering Jews
4. Spider's Web and Zipper and His
5. Die Erzahlungen
6. Flight Without End
7. Three Novellas: THE LEGEND OF
8. What I Saw: Reports from Berlin
9. Hotel Savoy (Works of Joseph Roth)
10. The Emperor's Tomb (Works of Joseph
11. Confession of a Murderer: Told
12. The Collected Stories of Joseph
13. Die Rebellion
14. Beichte eines Mörders, erzählt
15. The Tale of the 1002nd Night:
16. Right and Left and The Legend
17. The Silent Prophet (Works of Joseph
18. Hotel Savoy.
19. Hotel Savoy
20. Weights and Measures (Peter Owen

1. Radetzkymarsch
by Joseph Roth
Paperback: 464 Pages (2006-11-30)

Isbn: 3423191015
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

2. Report from a Parisian Paradise: Essays from France, 1925-1939
by Joseph Roth
Paperback: 304 Pages (2005-08-29)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$7.84
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0393327167
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
The wisdom of a lost generation distilled in a bottle of Calvados.

At one time an underground hero in the world of journalism, with prose on a par with Tolstoy and Kafka, Joseph Roth now looms large in the pantheon of European literature. Indeed, the last five years have seen a major Roth revival culminating in Report from a Parisian Paradise, a haunting epitaph by the greatest foreign correspondent of his age. An exile in Paris, Roth captured the essence of France in the 1920s and 1930s. From the port town of Marseille to the erotic hill country around Avignon, Report from a Parisian Paradise—superbly translated by Michael Hofmann—paints the sepia-tinted landscapes, enchanting people, and ruthless desperation of a country hurtling toward dissolution. Roth's book is not only a paean to a European order that could no longer hold but also a miraculous and revelatory work of transcendent philosophical clarity. 6 illustrations. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars I've Been Underestimating Joseph Roth!
I thought I knew the full range of his gifts. I've been singing his virtues as one of the great fiction writers of the 20th C, the skeptical, ironic observer in his novellas of the collapse of the old European culture following World War 1, virtually unmatched in his ability to narrate sorrow in the simplest language. I've been awed by the Prophetic Roth. Now I find, especially in his travel writings, another Roth, a troubadour poet capable of lyrical joy when the subject is suited to poetry. That subject, above all, was France -- French history and culture, French freedom and tolerance, French grit and resilience, all in marked comparison to the state of society in the Germany sinking ever deeper into the muck of Nazism. On his first visit in 1925, Roth wrote of his first impression of 'southern/Roman' France:

"It takes eight hours to get from Paris to Lyons. On the way there is avery sudden change in the landscape. You come out of a tunnel into an abruptly southern scene. Precipitous slopes, split rocks revealing their inner geology, a deeper green, soft, pale-blue smoke of a stronger, decidedly cerulean hue. A couple of clouds stand idly and massively on the horizon, as if they weren't haze but dark stone. All things have sharper edges; the air is still; its waves don't flatten forms. Each has its unalterable contours. Nothings hovers and havers here. There is perfect conviction in everything, as if the objects were better informed about themselves and the position they took up in the world. Here you don't wonder. You don't have a hunch. You know."

But don't suppose that Roth will always romanticize Romance, that is, the Romance culture of ever-Roman France. He can and will notice what's sordid and false there also, especially among those French who are inclined to accommodate the worst in Germany. Joseph Roth has been widely misperceived as an author of Nostalgia, with a conservative yen for the hallowed verities of pre-War Hapsburg Austria-Hungary. It just isn't so. Roth was bitterly disaffected from many aspects of 'modernity' -- and who could fault that, considering that his 'modern times' were the 1920s and 1930s in Germany, the vilest era in human history -- but if he craved a different time, his nostalgia was for a better Future, not a mummified Past. Visiting Avignon, one of his visionary "white cities", he declares precisely what it is that he desires:

"Will the world ever come to look like Avignon? The ridiculous fear of the nations, and of the European nations at that, that they might lose this or that 'characteristic feature' and that the colorful humanity might mix into a gray mush! But people aren't pigments, noris the world a palette! The more mixing, the more characteristics! I won't live to see the beautiful world in which every individual can represent in himself the totality, but even today I can sense such a future, as I sit in the Place de l'Horloge in Avignon, and see all the races in the world in the features of a policeman, a beggar, a waiter. That for me is the highest stage of human evolution..." In other words, the world Roth craved was forever a cosmopolitan, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic world. Later, in a nother essay, he bravely and enthusiastically advocates a 'unified Europe' -- in essence an even more "common market" of mingling cultures than our piffling current EU -- but one that can only be achieved by the exclusion/quarantine of the Third Reich and the renunciation of all stenches of nationalism.

This volume, Report from a Parisian Paradise, is not a book assembled by Joseph Roth himself. It's a very skillful translation, by Michael Hofmann, of a congeries of newspaper columns, letters, diary entries, and unpublished essays, assembled by a German editor in 1999. Frankly, the collection as a 'whole' is not exactly equal to the sum of the parts; I'd suggest disarticulating its sections and reading them separately for maximum impact. The centerpiece of the volume is Roth's unpublished (perhaps unfinished) travel account called "The White Cities, a 72-page essay in travel writing that I think would/should stand alone, and that seems to me a preview of the superb travel-structured books of W.G. Sebald.

In "The White Cities", Roth is more explicit and lucid in expounding his social vision than in any of his other writings. However, Report from a Parisian Paradise alsoincludes several dozen of Roth's pungent and/or poignant brief articles written for the Frankfurter Zeitung in the 1920s and for various less prepossessing journals in the 1930s. Roth was a fabulously successful, highly-paid newspaper feature-writer, until he was forced into exile and silence for his sharp criticisms of the rising Nazi party. There is an excruciating difference in tone between the playful wit of his pieces from '25 and '26 and the eloquent anger of his writings in the 1930s. Only the unfailing literary brilliance of the 50 pieces in this book binds them together; otherwise, they are as discontinuous as the years of Roth's life and the places where he passed those years. His "Parisian Paradise", by the way, was a dingy dance club, a downstairs dump with taxi-dancers, cheap drinks, and a determination to survive life.

5-0 out of 5 stars Joseph Roth in Paris

We are in the midst of a Roth Renaissance--no, not Phillip, but Joseph, who in an all too brief career from 1921-1939 established himself as the greatest newspaper correspondent of his age.

His reports from and about Weimar Berlin (1921-1933), "What I Saw" are minutely observed, sharply etched portraits of the "demimondaine" life of a city that boasted 120 newspapers, 40 theaters and great symphonies--a magnet for the aspiring composers, actors and journalists living side-by-side with the emerging Nazi monster.

As the goosesteps of the black-booted Nazis became progressively louder, the wary Jewish journalist exiled himself to safety in France in 1925. Fifty of his Parisian gems, written between 1925-1939 can be found in "Report From A Parisian Paradise"

As an ardent Francophile you will appreciate Roth's letter to the editor of the Frankfurter Zeitung newspaper almost immediately upon arriving in Paris in which he explains that he is in "complete control of his skeptical intelligence" and though risking "sounding moronic",

"Paris is the capital of the world and you must come here. No one who hasn't been here can claim to be more than half human. Every cab driver here is wittier than our authors. I love all of the women here, even the oldest of them to the point of contemplating matrimony."

Even when describing the aftermath of unimaginable horror in this description of Maisonette, 'the most terrible battlefield on the Somme his poetic voice is resonant:

"The earth was turned over, spattered with chunks of limestone, and with mud that oozed up from the depths. There wasn't a blade of grass or vegetation. Millions of shells rained down. A division clung for months to a hillside. And in the distance they saw the silver water of the Somme, and behind it the shining red roofs of Péronne, and on the left the green, blooming land--the other country, enemy country, that they yearned for as for a woman.

Now larks fizz through the air; the rain has stopped; the wind has blown away the clouds. Anyone who didn't see the war would think this was peace. But I can sense red blood running through the veins of the surviving trees, though the clumps of earth, in the delicate filaments of the leaves... Bent over the landscape, like a general over a map, is God. Unapproachable as a general; remote as a general..."

Back in Paris he observes children at play in the Jardin du Luxembourg and remarks that:

"French children behave with the ease and confidence of grown-ups. It's not so much a matter of race and blood as it is the consequence of the warm, loving, nurturing softness in the way they are brought up. The French pedagogical principle is not Spartan strictness but Roman freedom accorded to the individual disposition--it's not discipline but civilization."

And as a critic of the newly evolving film with sound he is smitten with René Clair's classic "Sous Les Toits de Paris (1930)" He writes:

"The action of this film emerges from the atmosphere of Paris in much the same way as a folk song is generated by a particular landscape. It's as though the tremulous, unresting fog over the roofs of Paris gave birth to the events that take place below."

Roth's ability to extract the essence of an event or scene and report it with elegant clarity would be exemplary in a seasoned reporter or novelist but remarkable in a man who did some of his best writing between the ages of twenty-six and thirty-five--an old soul in a young body.

And when viewed from the prism of 2004, "Report From a Parisian Paradise" is even more astonishing for what it foresaw.

5-0 out of 5 stars Incandescent
A true gift for anyone that loves writing, observation, and life, and an absolute gem for anyone that has ever been to or loved France. Heartbreakingly intelligent, perceptive, and compassionate writing from a master. Get this for yourself and all those you love (since you won't want to part with your copy). ... Read more

3. The Wandering Jews
by Joseph Roth, Elie Wiesel
Paperback: 168 Pages (2001-11)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$6.81
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 039332270X
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
The classic portrait of a vanished people. Every few decades a book is published that shapes Jewish consciousness. One thinks of Wiesel's Night or Levi's Survival in Auschwitz. But in 1927, years before these works were written, Joseph Roth (1894-1939) composed The Wandering Jews. In these stunning dispatches written when Roth was a correspondent in Berlin during the whirlwind period of Weimar Germany, he warned of the false comforts of Jewish assimilation, laid bare the schism between Eastern and Western Jews, and at times prophesied the horrors posed by Nazism. The Wandering Jews remains as vital today as when it was first published.Amazon.com Review
As a journalist, Joseph Roth's greatest strength, and perhaps his greatest weakness, was his self-professed love for his subjects. Roth, who is best known for his novels (particularly The Radetzky March), was the star journalist for the Frankfurter Zeitung in the early 1920s, when he began writing stories that led to The Wandering Jews. This book, newly translated by Michael Hofmann, is a masterpiece of literary journalism whose political prescience (regarding tensions between Eastern and Western Jews and the too-easy consolations of assimilation) is grounded in eclectic character studies (of, for instance, Parisian elites, a carnival performer from Radziwillow, a dock worker in Odessa). In an age of idea-driven journalism, when stories are often tailored to prove a writer's pre-existing thesis, Roth's lovingly inductive reasoning is refreshing. And his aphoristic insights are as spontaneous as they are circumspect. ("When a catastrophe occurs, people on hand are shocked into helpfulness.") The statement that best summarizes Roth's belief about the unalterable fate of the Jews also epitomizes the polished spontaneity of his style: Roth writes that wandering is "a tribulation that is appropriate to all Jews, and to all others besides. Lest we forget that nothing in this world endures, not even a home; and that our life is short, shorter even than the life of the elephant, the crocodile, and the crow. Even the parrots outlive us." --Michael Joseph Gross ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars Eastern Jews don't have a home, but a grave in every cemetery
'The Eastern Jew looks at the West with a longing that the West does absolutely not deserve.'
How prophetic was this sentence from Roth's 1927 essay, as far as Vienna and Berlin was concerned!
The essay's subject was the westward emigration of Eastern (Russian, Polish, Lithuanian, Romanian ...) Jews. Roth specifies in his introduction that the essay was written for those, to whom these people did not need to be defended for their poverty and partial backwardness, but for those who respected these people's pain and hardship.

This emigration had massively increased after WW1, the Russian Revolution, and the disintegration of the Austrian Empire. One reason for this massive movement was the new concept of the nation state. Central and Eastern Europe was a patchwork of `nations' in non-national states. The western concept of the nation state was forced upon the world, and the Jews ended up without a state --- so they needed to invent one. Roth was skeptical about Zionism, which would lead to a European kind of state and would keep wearing the European Mark of Cain (Roth's words, not mine). But it was certainly better to be a nation than to be mistreated by another. But can it be the world's purpose to consist of nation states?

The Eastern Jews were not generously welcomed, not even by the Western Jews. What was an Eastern Jew? All those whose ancestors had fled from Western pogroms to the East. Western Jews were those who were lucky that their ancestors did not have to flee. Or who had forgotten that their ancestors had fled from Eastern pogroms to the West. In a nutshell: Western Jews were from Breslau, Eastern Jews from Krakau.

Roth's essay is not a scientific analysis, not sociologically, not politically, not historically. It describes Jewish reality in various settings: the traditional small Jewish town, the Jewish minorities in large towns (Vienna, Berlin, Paris, New York/Chicago). We learn about divisions among Jewish believes, about rabbis and miracle rabbis, about professions and about festivals and markets and life in general.
The text is based on Roth's personal experience and observations, as one of them and as a journalist after the war. I have by now probably read over 90% of his available fiction, and I like some of his novels and stories better than others. For the language and the attitude of this essay, it ranks high among my favorite texts by him. It is the practice ground for the great novel Job, and it plays into bits and pieces of many other fictional texts by Roth.

10 years later, JR wrote a preface for a new edition planned by the exiled publisher Lange out of Amsterdam in 1937. I would like to summarize Roth's last chapter:
1. Zionism is only a partial solution to the Jewish problem.
2. Jews can only achieve the dignity that gives outer freedom, if the host nations achieve the inner freedom and the dignity that grants empathy.
3. That is not likely to happen - without a miracle from God.
Jewish believers still have their heavenly consolation. The others have `vae victis'.
End of paraphrase.
End of book.
End of review.
The 1937 edition was not published, as far as I know.

5-0 out of 5 stars extraordinary book
This is a non fiction book by Joseph Roth whose other books are mainly fiction - he was a prized journalist and writes like the best of both worlds - this book is an extraordinary picture of a period of life which we don't know enough about - because WW II got in the way and rendered information about Jews and life in Germany and eastern Europe in the 20's and 30's sort of academic and moot - It is an important and compelling and sad book - sad because we readers know facts that the author doesn't - we know what happened and he doesn't know the future.It is a valuable book which I have recommended and given to many friends.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, compassionate, and chillingly prescient
"The Wandering Jews" of the title are the displaced and unwanted Jews of Eastern Europe (from where Roth himself came before he made himself into one of Western Europe's foremost journalists and writers) before World War II.As Roth puts it, "Eastern Jews have no home anywhere, but their graves may be found in every cemetery."And as Roth foreshadowed (that line originally was published in 1925; this translation also includes the preface and an afterword to the later 1937 edition), the plight of the Eastern Jews only promised to become more dire.Indeed, one senses that Roth despaired that any strident alarm would be in vain.Thus, more than an alarm, THE WANDERING JEWS is a requiem.(And Roth went on to drink himself to death in 1939.)

In the first part of the book, Roth sets out to limn the character and essence of the Eastern Jew.I am willing to believe that he is thoroughly successful.(Example: "None of the many untrue and unjust accusations that are brought against Eastern Jews by the West are as untrue and unjust as the accusation that they are what the gutter press likes to call Bolshevik.Of all the world's poor, the poor Jew is surely the most conservative.")

In the second part of the book, Roth provides snapshots of five different aggregations of the Eastern Jews -- in the ghettoes of Vienna, Berlin, and Paris, in America (where there are "people who are more Jewish than the Jews, which is to say the Negroes"), and in Soviet Russia.As for the future of the Jews in Russia, Roth was somewhat optimistic in 1925, but by 1937 that optimism had been dispelled altogether.(Roth thus proved himself more cold-bloodedly realistic than many contemporary European liberals.)

Joseph Roth was a superb writer and a masterful polemicist. (I recently read a collection of H.L. Mencken's journalism, this particular one "A Religious Orgy in Tennessee", dealing with the Scopes Monkey Trial, and while there are obvious similarities between Roth and Mencken, who were contemporaries, Roth was by far the better and more cultured writer.)Here, the sardonic and sarcastic tone, albeit understandable, is at times wearing, but it is readily tolerated and forgiven by virtue of the sheer acuity of Roth's intellect and insights and by his compassion.

Roth is extremely prescient, not only about communism and Soviet Russia and about the Nazis and the Holocaust ("Centuries of civilization are no guarantee that a European people, by some ghastly curse of fate, will not revert to barbarism."), but also, startlingly so, about the Zionist/Palestinian dilemma.With regard to that last conundrum, I will let Roth, once again, speak for himself:

"Zionism and nationhood are by their nature Western European ideals * * *.Only in the East do people live who are unconcerned with their "nationality", in the Western European sense.They speak several languages, are themselves the product of several generations of mixed marriages, and fatherland for them is whichever country happens to conscript them. * * * Natiionality is a Western concept."

"The young halutzim [Zionist Jews who seek to establish a Jewish presence in Palestine] are brave farmers and workers, and they demonstrate the willingness of the Jew to work and till the fields and become sons of the soil, in spite of having spent hundreds of years among books.Unfortunately the halutzim are also oblighed to take up arms, to be soldiers, and to protect the land against the Arabs.Thus the European example has been carried into Palestine. * * * The Jew has a right to Palestine, not because he once came from there but because no other country will have him.The Arab's fear for his freedom is just as easy to understand as the Jew's genuine intention to play fair by his neighbor.And despite all that, the immigration of young Jews into Palestine increasingly suggests a kind of Jewish Crusade, because, unfortunately, they also shoot."

This is a remarkable and brilliant portrait of a marginal and now tragically vanished people by a remarkable and brilliant person.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Fears of 1937 Were Realized Sooner than Roth Thought
This book was a paen by a 'civilized (read westernized)' Jew on the cusp of WW2 and the holocaust.Roth travelled in most of post-WW1 Eastern Europe to learn the plight of his Jewish compatriots.In the original edition (written in 1926) he speaks of Eastern European Jews (mostly those of Galicia and the remnants of the Austro-Hungarian and Russian Empires) being able to find freedom of conscience and a world without anti-semitism by moving to the West.Unfortunately, by the West he meant Germany.

In the epilogue of the 1937 edition (which he wrote from self-exile in Paris) he takes the "New Germany" to task for the treatment of the Jews.He make major points as to the failure of the League of Nations to protect the Versailles Treaty 'national minorities' and specifically the treatment of DPs (displaced persons, people literally without a country).He makes the point that animals are protected in most countries better than Jews and DPs.

He is prescient when he speaks of an 'impending disaster' and seems to presage 'donor burnout'.He tells how right after a calamity, everyone seems to want to pitch in, but after awhile, except for a few philantropists, everyone pretty much wants to go back to their own lives.
This book is among the strongest statements made prior to WW2 of the approaching calamity, not just for Jews but all of Europe.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Ostjüde Writes Back
Joseph Roth's "The Wandering Jews" is one of the best written and most important books about East European Jews ever published. At a time of growing anti-Semitism (the first edition was written in 1926 and an update was published in Paris in 1937) and an immigration crisis affecting Germany as countless refugees poured into Berlin from the East, Roth--himself a Jew from Galicia, the easternmost part of the former Austrian empire--creates a sympathetic yet clearsighted portrait of contemporary Jewish life. In the process he effectively responds to all the stereotypes and libels heaped on East European Jews. For the contemporary reader, however, what is most affecting about this portrait is Roth's ability to convey a panorama of Jewish life on the brink of destruction. Though no one (except maybe Hitler) could have predicted, even in 1937, the extent of the devastation that would be visited on European Jewry, Roth's writing in this book serves as an indelible and moving memorial to a civilization that would soon disappear forever. It must therefore count among the first books in what would now be called "Holocaust literature," and one of the most meaningful works of protest literature--protest against the stereotypes that reduced Jews to objects of scorn and contempt; protest against the violence that would ensue from these stereotypes--of all time. Michael Hofmann's understated and articulate translation of this poignant, heartbreaking little book is a tremendous service for English-language readers. It fills in a vital space in the emerging image of Joesph Roth, a writer finally receiving his due in the precincts of European modernism, and it should be read by everyone interested in good writing and the problems of 20th century history. ... Read more

4. Spider's Web and Zipper and His Father (Works of Joseph Roth)
by Joseph Roth
Paperback: 245 Pages (2003-06)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$4.12
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1585674222
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Two novellas of rare energy and insight, The Spider's Web and Zipper and His Father are filled with Joseph Roth's surprising political foresight and compassionate sensitivity to the tremors of a world on the brink of collapse. The Spider's Web paints a chillingly realistic picture of the conspiracies of the radical right that were to undermine the Weimar Republic and pave the way for Hitler and National Socialism to take root among the disenchanted middle classes. Through the eyes of Theodor Lohse, a frustrated and disappointed veteran recently returned from the Great War, Roth shows the dark and powerful attraction of secret right-wing organizations to a man deprived of comradeship and military glory by the ennui of civilian life. Driven by anti-Semitism and an intense hatred of communism, Lohse assumes various disguises in an underground terrorist network, spreading the evil message of National Socialism through random acts of violence and intimidation. Zipper and his Father is a melancholy evocation of the seedy, unsuccessful lives of lowly clerks lounging in Viennese coffee houses and dreaming of what might have been. Roth charts the shared eccentricities and erratic progress of a father and son in the febrile world of German cinema in the late 1920s. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Among the Best from a Major 20th C Writer
"The Spider's Web" was serialized in a magazine in Vienna in 1923. Since its subject is the rise to power of thuggish Hitlerism, it stands as prime evidence of Joseph Roth's comprehension and prescience. No wonder the man was depressed and prone to alcoholism, when he foresaw the catastrophe of the coming decades so acutely! "Web" is a novella of about 100 pages, the story of a "fair-haired, industrious, well-behaved" but thoroughly mediocre boy, Theodore Lohse, who survives soldiering in World War I to discover a society that has no particular niche for him to fill. Lohse has two gifts: an inordinate ambition and an exceptionally flexible conscience. To call him an anti-hero would be flattery; he is a despicable villain, a murderer, a liar and betrayer of 'friends', a master of kiss-up-kick-down opportunism, and in Mittel Europa post-WW1, bound to rise with the tide of criminality. Anti-Semitism is his most consistent ideal, but ironically he becomes entrapped himself in the web of an equally unscrupulous Jewish operator, Benjamin Lenz. Theodore is fatuous enough to consider Benjamin a sincere friend; Benjamin is out to destroy Theodore and any other German he can outwit, a kind of vengeful stalker of fools. In the end, it's Benjamin who turns out to have both a more worthy goal - the salvation of his own family - and a clearer perception of impending reality. Such is the odd power of empathy in fiction that the reader finds him/herself engaged with the odious Lohse, and concerned for his outcome. This novella ends abruptly and inconclusively, so that it has been considered "unfinished". I would dispute that idea. Remember the times when it was written, for the 'conclusion' of Lohse's story was implicit and inexorable; the real conclusion wouldn't occur until 1945, six years after Joseph Roth's death. I can't imagine a more potent ending for this novella than what you'll find on its last page.

Lohse achieves the notice he craves by a kind of luck. He is sent by the Party to crush a rural workers' agitation - an assignment he knows is intended to squeeze him out of the important action - but he turns events in his favor by ruthless blood-letting. Times are cruel in the countryside, and Roth is supremely eloquent in describing them: ""Spring strode over Germany like a smiling murderer. Those who survived the huts, escaped the round-ups, were not touched by the bullets of the National Citizens' League nor the clubs of the Nazis, those who were not stuck down by hunger at home and those whom spies had forgotten, died on the road, and clouds of crows cruised over their corpses.""

"Zipper and His Father" is a later creation, from 1928. I'd like to call it a "novella of generations", a 110-page fiction that has the atomic mass of an 800-page 'Roman' on the scale of Buddenbrooks or Les Thibault, but I can't really assess whether it is fictional at all. (There is another edition of Zipper, with an extended introduction; I rather wish I'd chosen that one, though usually the difference between 'fact' and fiction is immaterial to me as a reader.) A discrete narrator, presumably Roth himself, tells the story of his boyhood friend Arnold Zipper, another survivor of WW1 who comes home from the defeated Austrian army to find his father's hapless generation still occupying both the thrones and footstools of circumstance. The narrator is a fatherless boy who develops a sincere affection for his friend's father, Old Zipper, despite that father's comical eccentricities and follies. Both generations of Zippers are enfeebled by their own expectations, which neither their mediocre abilities nor their muddled society can meet. Roth plainly intends the father and son to be emblematic of the specific febrile feeblenesses of their generations: those who sent their sons to war and those sons themselves. This is a warm-hearted account of a friendship with father and son, and at the same time a steely-eyed autopsy of the plight of the petty bourgeoisie of Mittel Europa between the wars.

Another sample of Roth's literary skills: the narrator is searching for Arnold after a long separation, and encounters a mutual acquiantance: ""I had always previously avoided P, for fear of the altitude at which he lived and the icy blast which might descend on me. After all, one is alive, has one's hopes, may even be immortal, but nevertheless feels happy within the limited horizons of the few decades which circumscribe human life. One would rather not know about the insignificance, the triviality, of a phrase one coins, of an action one undertakes, a pain one feels. When P was talking it was like peering into the Milky Way experiencing, to the power of a hundred thousand suns and a million planets, what is apportioned to our single sun and earth.... one probably had to have reached a great age before one could talk at all with P.""

Next to Roth's acknowledged masterpiece, the novel The Radetsky March, these two shorter works strike me as his finest and most permanently significant, both for their historical evocations and insights, and for their literary merits as depictions of flesh-and-blood mortal beings. Joseph Roth is one of those writers who should have won the Nobel Prize but didn't, possibly because the lens through which he viewed humanity was too clear and too precisely refracted, with all the astigmatisms of illusion corrected.

5-0 out of 5 stars Superb
Both the stories here are superb and it makes a well-balanced anthology.The protagonist in "Spider," Theodor Lohse, is an anti-Semite who becomes easily used for political ends.

I am better acquainted with Roth's semi-autobiographical "Zipper and his Father," having read it also in the Penguin edition with excellent introduction.It's heavy with lyricism and nostalgia for the bygone age of the Weimar Republic.A main preoccupation of Roth, European masculine angst, is epitomised in the uselessness of dislocated or disaffected heirs, especially when brutalised by war, trapped among bourgeois surroundings and objects.Zipper's actressy wife embodies the decadent money-grubbing German expressionist cinema industry.Roth/the narrator certainly gets in some anti-thespian jibes but has some acute psychological insights too.

The book is a "slice of life", skilfully and poetically done.Recommended.

... Read more

5. Die Erzahlungen
by Joseph Roth
Hardcover: 303 Pages (1992)

Isbn: 3462021745
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

6. Flight Without End
by Joseph Roth
Paperback: 144 Pages (2003-01-15)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$5.59
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1585673854
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Disillusioned by the new ideologies circulating in Europe after World War I, Franz Tunda is the archetypal modern man taken up by the currents of history. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars One loses distance to things if one gets too close to them
In my approach to this amazing writer Joseph Roth, I found the following sentence by the doyen of literary critics in Germany, a man called Reich-Ranicki (a survivor from the Polish ghettos, now 90 years old). He is quoted on the back of the German pocket book edition of Flight without End as saying that Roth put the protagonists of his tales under a light as clear as glass. I keep thinking about that and it strikes me as a good approximation. Roth's people are not described with many words, but with an uncanny precision, and mostly through their words and actions.

Flucht ohne Ende is in a way unusual for Roth. Not so much the story: the life of a former Austrian officer in WW1, who gets captured by the Russians, is a POW in Siberia, escapes and hides with a Polish drifter in Siberia, assumes a Polish identity, tries to walk home after the war is over, gets caught by the Whites, freed by the Reds, falls in love, becomes a revolutionary, moves on, to the Caucasus, then back to Austria, then to stay with his wealthy brother in the Rhineland, then to look for his former bride in Berlin, then to Paris... The story of a de-rooted man in the turbulences of post-war Europe. Nobody in the whole world is as superfluous as he.

While the plot looks like a typical Roth, including reminiscences of Radetzky March, the writing is a bit different. It starts with a 7 line foreword, dated 1927, and signed Joseph Roth, where he claims that the following is pure fact, the life of his friend Franz, based partly on what Franz has told him and partly on writing from Franz himself. (This is a trick frequently used, e.g. by Nabokov, but untypical for Roth.)

The alleged diary pages have a different tone from the rest of the text: they describe banalities and occurrences with a naïve distance that reminded me of Robert Walser's writing. I never before thought of Walser at all when reading Roth. Franz also writes a letter to Roth, after his return to Austria, and before the two have met again. The letter is among the weaker texts in this messy book. An attempt at explaining what had not been asked: why had he left the Soviet Union?

The `direct' narration pieces (i.e. where Roth claims to paraphrase his friend) are also not entirely like other Roths: this is a most aphoristic novel. We get short statements about everything under the sun: the world, war, revolution, patriotism, society, love, man, woman, writing, Berlin, Paris ... Roth and his creature Franz have a brief, dry comment about them all.
The visit to the family of his socially successful and saturated brother is a brilliant satire on German provincial complacency. It reminded me of some reasons why I don't live there any more.

One must have a goal in life, no? Franz is wondering if he has not let himself be determined too much by the accidental events in his life, rather than define what he really wanted. A goal is surely better than an ideal, is fictional Roth's answer to Franz's doubts.
Is Franz meant to be an alter ego? One would think so. This is maybe not Roth's best novel, but possibly his most personal one (taking into account that I have read only about half of his published books.) The man may have thrown a clear light on his creatures, but he was not the most open one about himself.

4-0 out of 5 stars "Run, Run, as fast as You Can! ...
.... You can't catch me! I'm the gingerbread man!"

Franz Tunda, the principal figure in "Flucht ohne Ende", is a sort of gingerbread man, kneaded into shape more by events than by his own will. He's a skilled escapist, yet he's captured - literally - in the first sentence of the novella; a lieutenant in the Austrian army of WW1, he becomes a prisoner in pre-revolutionary Russia. He escapes from the prison camp - immediately, in the third sentence! - and finds asylum with a hermit woodcutter/huntsman in Siberia. Assuming his protector's family name, he runs again, having learned months after the fact that the war is over. But he's caught again, first by Whites and then by Reds, well short of home in Austria. This time he's captured emotionally as well, falling in love with his captor, the Revolutionary Woman. Kneaded into plausible Communist cookie-shape by his Pasionaria, he spends the next several years slipping away from various configurations of his identity in the New Utopia of Communism, and then runs full speed frantically out of Russia toward ....

Toward what is always the question. Does the Gingerbread Boy ever have an idea of where his flight will take him? And what if he does escape? Where will he be then?

Franz Tunda escapes to Western Europe - Germany and France - and to "modernity". In both, he is utterly superfluous. The resourceful escape artist has no resources for staying put. Without work, without money, without any useful identity except his knack for expanding upon his adventures in Siberia, he is the prototypical random particle in the cloud chamber of modern times. The book will end with him standing at a corner in Paris, with no sense of what direction to flee toward next. And that's where author Joseph Roth finds him.

"Flight Without End" breaks (somewhat awkwardly) into two sections, composed in two disparate stylistic languages. The first half, narrating Tunda's life from his capture by the Russians to his homecoming to Austria, is written in Roth's most precise, short-sentence simplicity, as 'clean' of ornamentation as prose can be. Once Tunda reaches the West and Modernity, the tone and the syntax change radically. The author introduces himself in the story. There are purported quotes from Tunda's own journal and letters. The sentences become longer, much longer, and Tunda is turned inside out. From a man of action - flight! - he becomes a man of passive observation, and what he observes perplexes him into helplessness. His observations (presumably reflecting Roth's) become bitterly satirical. Everything he has fled toward seems superficial, artificial, empty. He is superfluous, as he knows, because everything is superfluous in such a world, where filling one's accepted role is the only goal. Roth's humor is killingly funny, here and in other books, but the issue is often whom to kill.

Roth discovers his character Tunda more than once. It seems to be implied that they were pre-war friends. Then, after he reaches the West, Tunda seeks Roth's help by letter and Roth reconnects Tunda to his brother in Germany. Finally, as mentioned above, Roth 'meets' Tunda on the street - by chance? - in Paris. Here's the text of Roth's Foreword from the 1927 Paris edition of Flucht ohne Ende:

""In what follows I tell the story of my friend, comrade and spiritual associate, Franz Tunda. I follow in part his notes, in part his narrative. I have invented nothing, made up nothing. The question of poetic invention is no longer relevant, Observed fact is all that counts.""

How seriously can we take that declaration? Roth is presenting us with the apparatus of a factual account, not a fiction, but I as a reader can't help suspecting a trick. Was "Franz Tunda" in a normal sense a real person? Much of his reported life seems parallel to Roth's, including especially his stateless arrival in Paris. There's no consistent distinction, in the book, between the voices of the author and the protagonist; it's impossible to distinguish between Tunda's sardonic satires of German/French society and Roth's own. Perhaps some Roth scholar, reading this review, will know whether or not the tale of Franz Tunda is straightforward non-fiction or disingenuous dissimilation. Until I learn otherwise, I'm presuming the latter, with the implication that Franz Tunda is a self-portrait, that it was Joseph Roth who encountered himself standing superfluously on that corner in Paris.

A proper literary critic would no doubt judge this book to be awkward in construction, perhaps hastily written, unsatisfactory in terms of the Aristotelian unities. Yeah, that's about right. It's not as well crafted as Roth's best novellas --"Job" or "The Rebellion" for instance -- but it's devastating in its way, as a portrayal of the state of society in Europe in the 1920s, and as a confession of the hopelessness of the individual in the Mass Culture of the modern world.

3-0 out of 5 stars Flight without direction
In this novella, the hero drifts from place to place after returning to Europe from exile in Siberia, where he had been sent as a prisoner of war. I would describe this as minor Roth, in which the skilled journalist has not yet given way to the brilliant novelist. He describes some interesting encounters with his characteristic wit, but the book does not build momentum or lead anywhere in particular. The hero ends up describing himself, like a character from Lermontov, as a superfluous man.

For the Roth fans who will read this short book, I will cite one passage among several that struck me, about a "rich landed proprietor":

"Social sense is a luxury which the rich allow themselves and which has the further practical advantage of serving, to some extent, to maintain property. [Klara's] father loved to drink a little glass of wine with his head forester, to take a brandy with the forester, and to exchange a word with the assistant forester. Even social sense is able to make subtle distinctions. He would never allow any of his servants to pull on his boots, he used a bootjack out of common decency. His children had to wash in snow in the winter, travel the long road to school alone, climb up to their pitch-dark rooms at eight o'clock and make their own beds. Nowhere in the neighborhood were domestic servants better treated. Klara had to iron her vests with her own hands. In short, the old man was a man of principle and fibre, a virtuous landowner, a living defence against socialism, respected far and wide and elected to the Reichstag, where he demonstrated as a member of the conservative party that reaction and humanity are not irreconcilable opposites.

"He attended Klara's wedding, behaved well to the conductor [the groom], and died some weeks later without ever having allowed his expression to betray that he would have preferred a landowner: humanity to the grave."

No one but Roth could have written that passage, which creates a world in a few sentences and, indeed, demonstrates the writer's own deep sense of humanity.

4-0 out of 5 stars Another perspective on the "lost generation"
Austrian Lt. Franz Tunda, the main character of Roth's "Flight Without End," escapes from a Russian prisoner-of-war camp during World War I. He hides out in Siberia until the war ends, then attempts to return to his former life in Vienna. On the way, Tunda becomes enmeshed in the turbulence of post-war Europe, a world that seems to have utterly lost its bearings.

Although it would be a stretch to characterize his decade-long effort to get home as a full-fledged Odyssey, the kaleidoscopic variety of his travels and exploits do lend the book some of the marvelously dramatic qualities of the epic genre. Tunda is a brutal footsoldier drafted to fight for the Bolshevik revolution; a mild-mannered Soviet functionary in faraway Baku; a free spirit smothered by the bourgeois conformity of Roth's unnamed but familiar "city on the Rhine"; a love-besotted flaneur on the boulevards of Paris.

Much of Roth's work grapples with the demise of the 19th century's certainties in the aftermath of World War I. In this "Flight without End," the possibilities of life are, both for better and for worse, greatly expanded.
... Read more

by Joseph Roth
Paperback: 112 Pages (2003-10-28)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$8.62
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1585674486
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
The Legend of the Holy Drinker" tells the haunting story of a dissolute vagrant who is uplifted for a short time by a series of miracles. Written in the final days of Roth's life, it is a novella of sparkling lucidity and humanity. "Fallmerayer the Stationmaster" and "The Bust of the Emperor" are Roth's most acclaimed works of shorter fiction. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Almost Biblical...A Humbling and Towering Masterpiece!
I am not good writing such reviews.But as an artist, I must concede that when you are confronted with a great powerful work of art you must bow your head, take off your hat, show some respect in some way, shape or form.I do not believe in God or religion, money or political parties -- but I passionately believe in what it is that the most imaginative, honest, and idealist artists strive to achieve: a window into the soul of every day life.The internal and external conflicts.The despair.The humor.The tragedy.And this story has all that.Even hope.But not in some perfunctory Hallmark-Lifetime-Hollyweird-Oprah Winfrey-way.The Legend of a Holy Drinker's hope stems from the sadness that Roth sees through as he tries to show that there are endless possibilities in this brutal world...and it is never too late to accept a challenge or allow a miracle to crawl into your heart.

The sentiment in Roth's writing is sincere and in my humble opinion "Holy Drinker" ranks up there with Kafka's "Hunger Artist," LeRoi Jones/Baraka's "Dutchman," Beckett's "Endgame," & the best of Ginsberg or Langston Hughes or Henry Dumas...His art is so rich, so densely, yet so finely combed and succint and like Carver or Barthelme -- he is a master of the short form, like Hemingway he knows how to reveal the profundity of a muscular sentence with straight-forward words (thanks to the tranlsator!).

Biblical in the way that Marlon Brando's screen presence was biblical or Chaplin and Dreyer's films or Beatles music or Billie Holiday's voice, or Sinatra's phrasing...Haunting and challenging.A must-read for anyone looking to discover a personal work etched in spiritual angst, social turmoil, and human confusion.

And forget about everything you ever read about alcoholism, the homeless, and struggle.There is nothing sensational or exploitive in Roth's account of the tramp "saved" in "Holy Drinker."He writes from experience (you can always tell) and imbues empathy, not sympathy.This book will stir your soul and lure you in all the way to the end...

5-0 out of 5 stars Erzahlungen by a 20th Century Master
A sumptuous, mordant, and richly pleasing trio of smartly-written short stories from Roth, master chronicler of the Mitteleuropean interregnum. Filled with human colour utterly absent from other better known authors of the period, Roth captures not only the time and place, but feel and flavour, of a fascinating - and crucial - cultural moment one can only otherwise approximate in the music of Berg, Zemlinsky, Gurlitt, and the entartete musik crowd. A truly wonderful entree to the works of Joesph Roth.

5-0 out of 5 stars Solid and moving European prose of another era
The translations of Roth's stories offered in this slim volume are all the more extraordinary in that they allow the reader to walk next to the stories' narrators as they describe their settings and characters.Whether it is the simple peasants who don't comprehend the end of an empire in their sleepy little village, a clochard with a debt, or a simple stationmaster who longs for love and life, Roth holds these simple characters up as icons of a time and world that struggles with the progress of politics, morals, and perspectives.I recommend these stories for the beauty of the language and the beauty of Roth's gift of storytelling. ... Read more

8. What I Saw: Reports from Berlin 1920-1933
by Joseph Roth
Paperback: 240 Pages (2004-08)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$9.12
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0393325822
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
"[Joseph Roth] is now recognized as one of the twentieth century's great writers."—Anthony Heilbut, Los Angeles Times Book Review)

The Joseph Roth revival has finally gone mainstream with the thunderous reception for What I Saw, a book that has become a classic with five hardcover printings. Glowingly reviewed, What I Saw introduces a new generation to the genius of this tortured author with its "nonstop brilliance, irresistible charm and continuing relevance" (Jeffrey Eugenides, New York Times Book Review).

As if anticipating Christopher Isherwood, the book re-creates the tragicomic world of 1920s Berlin as seen by its greatest journalistic eyewitness. In 1920, Joseph Roth, the most renowned German correspondent of his age, arrived in Berlin, the capital of the Weimar Republic. He produced a series of impressionistic and political essays that influenced an entire generation of writers, including Thomas Mann and the young Christopher Isherwood. Translated and collected here for the first time, these pieces record the violent social and political paroxysms that constantly threatened to undo the fragile democracy that was the Weimar Republic. Roth, like no other German writer of his time, ventured beyond Berlin's official veneer to the heart of the city, chronicling the lives of its forgotten inhabitants: the war cripples, the Jewish immigrants from the Pale, the criminals, the bathhouse denizens, and the nameless dead who filled the morgues. Warning early on of the dangers posed by the Nazis, Roth evoked a landscape of moral bankruptcy and debauched beauty—a memorable portrait of a city and a time of commingled hope and chaos.

What I Saw, like no other existing work, records the violent social and political paroxysms that compromised and ultimately destroyed the precarious democracy that was the Weimar Republic. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (12)

5-0 out of 5 stars He was not a Berliner
Not everyone likes Berlin. Joseph Roth didn't. He had moved there from Vienna in 1920 to make a career as a journalist and novelist. He succeeded, he became a well known `feuilleton' writer and he found a publisher for his novels. But his heart was not in the place. By 1925 he was happy to get an assignment to Paris. He still visited Berlin regularly until events in 1933 made emigration final.
He wrote articles for several papers. He saw his job as feuilletonist in the synthesis of facts and artful language. This is Wiki's definition of the term:

Feuilleton( a diminutive of French: feuillet, the leaf of a book) was originally a kind of supplement attached to the political portion of French newspapers, consisting chiefly of non-political news and gossip, literature and art criticism, a chronicle of the latest fashions, and epigrams, charades and other literary trifles. The feuilleton may be described as a "talk of the town", and a contemporary English-language example of the form is the Talk of the Town section of The New Yorker.

In other words, he could write about whatever he pleased, and he did. This book collects articles that were published during his time in Berlin. He walked about and watched and listened and wrote. A feuilleton is not a political analysis, nor is it investigative reporting. We can't expect disclosures nor sharp analytical insights or political prophecies, but we do get astute observations and brilliant descriptions. He visits the Jewish quarters, meets refugees and asylum seekers, catches the mood in traffic and construction, visits places of culture and entertainment, including those where politics are made.
His visit to the place of the homeless reminded me of the totally different way that Orwell used in approaching the subject. Orwell submerged himself and thus achieved an effect that Roth couldn't come near to.
In a way, the `feuilleton' is not a fully satisfactory genre, and Roth should be remembered for his novels, stories, and essays, not for his little leaflets.
The book has wonderful photographic illustrations from the period, especially on the Jewish quarter. I can't see in the `search inside' function of the amazon page on the translation whether the English language edition has kept them all. Would be a pity if not.

5-0 out of 5 stars Serendipity versus Fascism
The first 'feuilleton' in this thoughtful selection of Joseph Roth's newspaper articles from the 1920s sets the agenda. Roth wrote:
"Strolling around on a May morning, what do I care about the vast issues of world history..or even the fate of some individual [who] in some way makes some lofty appeal to us? Confronted with the truly microscopic, all loftiness is hopeless, completely meaningless. The diminutive of the parts is more impressive than the monumentality of the whole. I no longer have any use for the sweeping gestures of heroes on the global stage. I'm going for a walk." There's a hint of Robert Walser, the happy-go-lucky flaneur, in this agenda, but Roth is too earnest to mean exactly what he says. All of us, himself included, spend most of our attention of the mere objects we encounter with our senses as we stroll through life. The unplanted vine curling up a wire fence holds our thoughts more than the fact that the fence surrounds a hospital. The sound of a civil defense siren being tested at noon on Wednesday occupies our mind more than the inevitability of atomic war. "In the face of the sunshine that spreads ruthlessly over the walls... anything puffed up and inessential can have no being. In the end ... I come to believe that everything we take seriously... is unimportant." Life, in other words, is a constant stroll through the immediate, through fleeting interactions with trivia. I dare say I agree; sitting at this keyboard, I'm more engrossed with the color of a strange wall than I am with world affairs. I have to assign my mind the task of thinking about Iran or global warming.

Joseph Roth was one of the best-known and highest paid journalists of the German-language press in the 1920s, essentially a roving columnist/correspondent for the Frankfurter Zeitung and other papers. He wrote hundreds of such brief reports, seldom even 1000 words in length, of which 34 are included in "What I Saw". This is NOT a selection Joseph Roth made from his own work; the 34 'Feuilletons' were chosen by editor Michael Beinert in 1996 and published in German under the title "Joseph Roth in Berlin". "What I Saw" is a title picked by translator Michael Hofmann in 2003, 64 years after Roth's death in Paris in 1939. All but the final selection were originally published in ephemeral daily papers in the early 1920s, so the subtitle "1920-1933" might unfortunately mislead American readers looking for an account of the rise of Nazism. Roth described that phenomenon with painful vividness in his novels, but these little journalistic impressions were never intended to be analytic history. Their worth as 'literature' comes fromtheir sparks of poetic language and their sly insights into ordinary life: the Jewish refugee who builds a miniature "Temple of Solomon" for display; the Berlin steam baths where travelers spend the night when they can't find a hotel; the special car for wood-gatherers on the Berlin subway; the hunch-backed waiter whose job was to distribute newspapers to customers in a famous coffee house; the six-day bicycle race and the crowd that attends it. It's fun for a reader like me -- as much a 'stroller' as Roth or Walser or as W.G. Sebald -- to find that Roth's minutia have remained unchanged along the streets of my times.

But in the end, even the "unpolitical observer" that journalist Roth pretended to be could not remain aloof from "great events." The last three or four feuilletons of this collection expose Roth's despair and anger at the calamity engulfing Germany with the rise of the National Socialist thugs to power. The final selection here, "The Auto-da-fe of the Mind" written in exile in France in 1933, is perhaps the most ferocious and eloquent denunciation of Fascism I've ever read. The anger in it seethes and scalds. In no other writing did Roth so passionately identify himself with the Jewish culture of Europe, or so prophetically lament its fate. It's as if, in this editor's selection, we had taken an off-beat but interesting tour of Weimar Berlin with our ever-ironic guide Joseph, and come at the end of our stroll upon a scene of horrible brutality.

4-0 out of 5 stars Fine Feuilletons, But Not About Nazi Growth in the 1920's
Joseph Roth is best-known today as the author of the The Radetzky March (Works of Joseph Roth), but his day job was as a journalist. This book is a collection of columns he wrote as he observed daily life in Berlin. (The correct term for them is "feuilleton").

The titles of the book's parts give a good indication of Roth's topics in the 34 selections published here for the first time in English; for example, the Jewish Quarter, Displaced Persons, Bourgeoisie and Bohemians, and Berlin's Pleasure Industry. While Roth mentions Hitler, Goebbels, and the Nazis occasionally, only the final chapter, Auto-da-Fe of the Mind, is devoted entirely to the subject.

One thing I should make clear, Roth's book is NOT an exploration of the growing power of the Nazis. Given that Berliners came late to Nazism, this is perhaps not that surprising, but it came as a disappointment to me. (The subtitle's reference to 1920-1933 is a bit misleading. Only the final chapter was written in 1933 and the latest prior publication date for any other chapter was 1929.)

Roth did not much like Berlin and his descriptions provide a counterbalance to the numerous views of Berlin's heyday in the 1920's. The book is indispensable to anyone with a great interest in Berlin, especially in the inter-war period, but otherwise of limited interest to most readers - unless you just enjoy a good and well-written feuilleton without regard to the subject matter.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent
I lived in Berlin in the 70's, and wanted to read about the local history there.It turned out that this book was more about the attitudes of people as they moved towards nazism. The writing is poetic.Some of his descriptions of the absurdity of city life could apply to people in any large city.

5-0 out of 5 stars Before the storm
The prose is quick and lively, entertaining but chilling. The sense of foreboding never eases. His class of society is broader than Berlin Alexanderplatz, but there is the same grittiness.
On the other hand, the description and picture of the all night baths showed a refinement that we could emulate. It was a happy marriage of a Russian sauna and a upscale YMCA.
The photos are excellent, and add to the sense of the GegangendeZeit. ... Read more

9. Hotel Savoy (Works of Joseph Roth)
by Joseph Roth
Paperback: 160 Pages (2003-10-28)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$10.93
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B003A02TLA
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Still bearing scars from the gulag, a freed POW traverses Russia to arrive at the Polish town of Lodz. In its massive Hotel Savoy, he meets a surreal cast of characters, each eagerly awaiting the return from America of a rich man named Bloomfield. Like Europe itself in 1932, the hotel is the stage upon which characters follow fate to its tragic destination. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Frenetic Allegory about Europe in the Aftermath of the Great War
Gabriel Dan, a POW in World War I, is returning to Europe from Russia. He stops temporarily at the huge Hotel Savoy, the great building in a gray and grimy manufacturing town, where revolution is in the air and workers are on strike.

In this town, Gabriel meets at least 25 characters to whom Roth gives a name, an occupation, and a social status based on money. Most of these characters inhabit the six-story Hotel Savoy. Those who live in the top three stores are too poor to leave. Meanwhile, the first three floors are inhabited by the wealthy, who "plan to go into business" and "compete with him [God]"... "on an equally large scale."

In HOTEL SAVOY, Roth briskly explores the interaction among his many characters. When that interaction is between rich and poor, exploitation and anger are manifest. When that interaction is among the poor, the subject is the absence of money or the effort to make some. The characters are no more than their jobs and their expectations. Meeting them is like going to a bar and getting a quick impression of people who, for the most part, don't like each other.

HOTEL SAVOY has two great events. The first is the visit by Bloomfield, a wealthy American returning to visit his father's grave, who is said to be looking for investment opportunities. During Bloomfield's visit, a sense of hopefulness sweeps the town. Then, Bloomfield leaves and instability, in the form of a mob, returns.

In this novella, the narrative is frenetic and muddled and probably captures the social tensions affecting Weimar Germany at its nadir.

Some lyrical passages. Saved by its brevity.

5-0 out of 5 stars 703
Isn't that a nice room number? Like a woman in the middle, framed by an old man and a young one.
Hotel Savoy is a kind of absurd space ship in the inter-war galaxy. Somewhere on the unclear borderline between Russia and Europe, it provides shelter of sorts to the most surprising travelers.

Our narrator, Gabriel, is a son of Russian Jews. He is on the walk back home after a Siberian POW camp. From that information we conclude that he was an Austrian soldier before he got pow-ed. He stays in the Savoy because his presumably rich uncle lives in this un-named town. Gabriel hopes to shake some cash from this tree, but fails. A nice blue suit is a proper consolation prize.

Gabriel is an educated man. He can even do the declination of the name of the Greek hotel owner. But he can't squeeze money out of his uncle.
And the man who lives in the last room, free of charge, is called Hirsch Fisch. (Deer Fish, for the uninformed.) Meanwhile, the lift-'boy' holds the guests' luggage hostage until they can pay back the bills to him.
And the exotic dream girl is called Stasia. Now that leaves room for speculation on prophetic abilities, on J.R.'s side. (Stasi was the East German secret service, but JR can not have known that.) (No way.)

This is a most puzzling encounter. I am on my way to get to know Joseph Roth, whom I had previously believed I knew already. Not so. This short novel from the late 20s is outside the standard stance that I am used from Joroth. He was in the middle of his life span as a writer. I wonder what he would have accomplished if he had survived his fellow Austrian, the `Bohemian Corporal'.
Of course I read a German edition, but from the picture of the American pocket book here I must say that it captures the madness and absurdity of the book nicely, while the German pocket book has a stupid illustration based on an old Austrian hotel. What fools.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Land-locked Ship of Fools
The war has ended. Soldiers and survivors of prisons are straggling out of Russia toward the West. One of them, our narrator, reaches a squalid industrial town between here and there, and finds himself stranded, coaxing nothing out of his rich uncle except an elegant hand-me-down suit. He takes a room at the Hotel Savoy, an immense indefinite structure that seems to expand and contract like an accordion, though 'we' never scale higher than the seventh floor. There are luxurious quarters on the lower floors, or at least so it seems, but our narrator lodges on the fifth floor, just below the exotic dancer Stasia, who has managed at least not to become one of the naked bar girls who fawn on the rich industrialists in the bar of the Hotel Savoy. The elevator operator, Ignatz, has odd powers of intimidation -- may in fact be Death -- and keeps everyone's luggage locked somewhere until the room charges are settled, which of course can never happen. There's a strike underway among the factory workers, and everyone is waiting for "Bloomfield", the native of the town who has become filthy rich in America, to reinvent their businesses.Unquestionably, the "revolution" is near ...

The Austrian Jewish writer Joseph Roth (1894-1939) amazes me with his ability to compress an entire genre of writing into each of his highly original novellas. "Hotel Savoy" is a blend of Baroque allegory with post-Freudian surrealism, as if Eramus's "Ship of Fools" had been updated by Vlad Nabokov, with stylistic accents from Franz Kafka and Robert Walser. I'm reminded of the great paintings by Pieter Brueghel, of soldiers and beggars carousing while the plague fires burn. Obviously the 'hotel' is the whole of European civilization in debacle. Terrifying as Roth's vision is, this novella is fiercely funny, a carnival foxtrot of despair, a purgative bonfire of the vanities.

Joseph Roth is one of the 20th Century's most outstanding writers. I've also reviewed his 'Biblical' novela "Job" and his profound novel-of-generations "The Radetsky March." Now I think I'll move on to his extensive journalistic reports on the Hitlerian nightmare he observed during the intermission of the 20s and 30s. Catch the wave, fellow readers! Roth is on the rise. ... Read more

10. The Emperor's Tomb (Works of Joseph Roth)
by Joseph Roth
Paperback: 157 Pages (2002-09-01)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$8.51
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1585673277
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
The Emperor's Tombis a nostalgic, haunting elegy for the end of youth and the last days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. A continuation of the saga of the von Trotta family from The Radetzky March, it is both a powerful and moving look at a decaying society and its journey through the War and its devastating aftermath, and the story of the erosion of one man's desperate faith in the virtues of a simple life.AUTHORBIO: Joseph Roth was born in 1894 in a small Galician town on the eastern borders of the Hapsburg Empire. After serving in the Austro-Hungarian army from 1916 to 1918, he worked as a journalist in Vienna and in Berlin. He died in Paris in 1939, leaving behind thirteen novels as well as many stories and essays. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

4-0 out of 5 stars Nostalgia is a relative term
This is one of J.Roth's most complicated books, despite its shortness (just 170 pages in the edition that I have read). It is easily misunderstood as nostalgia for the double monarchy of Austria and Hungary. It is something much darker, and it comes with a very black sense of humor that can easily be missed.

It is also the first in my current exploration of the man's writing that leaves me a little unsatisfied. The book has enough material for a 500 page novel. Treating all its subjects in less than half of that gives me a feeling of incompleteness. This is a bit like a draft for another book. We have the Siberia chapter, rather unconnected. The marriage chapters - so much more could have been made out of them. The economic distress after the war is understated. One reviewer called the book a skeleton, which is not a bad picture.

The narrator is a member of the Slovenian Trotta family. The `Hero of Solferino', from Radetzkymarsch, is his Great Uncle. The tale centers on the world war (when he wrote, there had only been one) and its aftermath. He thinks the name `world war' is correct, not because the whole world fought it, but because a world, `our world', ended with it.
Nostalgia for the old world, yes, because what follows is so much worse. It can only be understood in reference to the German/Austrian history until 1938. This nostalgia is about lost social status and life comforts, more than about Kaiser Franz Joseph.

Trotta was a wealthy young man of leisure before the war. He was hanging out in Vienna with a group of other idlers. The clique was a multinational one from various parts of multicultural Kakania. They were so snobbish that they were not even anti-Semites, because anti-Semitism was the fashion of the concierges and coach drivers. (This should serve as an example for the black humor that I mentioned.)

It appears in Trotta's perception that the `empire' was mostly held together by the non-German peoples in it, the so-called crown-lands, while the German Austrians were dreaming about joining the German empire. One group likes songs about the Kaiser, while the other one prefers those about the Wacht am Rhein. The story leads us up to the realization of that `dream' in 1938. Roth died in the following year.

Trotta presents himself to us as a weakling who is subject to much peer pressure. He is a non-believer and he dares not show that he is in love with a girl, both for fear of the ridicule of his friends. Interesting footnote on his mother: she is less a believer than a `practitioner', which also goes in the direction of doing things for their reputation value.
Trotta is not in the habit of having clear ideas of what he wants. He drifts through his life and the book as if he meant it when he says early on: a meaningless death may be better than a meaningless life.

Is Trotta an alter ego for Roth? Absolutely not at all. They are ethnically and socially totally different (one wealthy, Catholic Slovenian, who is degraded after the war, and the other from simple Galician Jewish background, who made a career as a writer and journalist after the war), and their character was quite different. They did share the depression though.
All in all I don't think this is J.Roth at his best.

5-0 out of 5 stars Despair is not the Same as Nostalgia
"... for we loved nostalgia just as unthinkingly as we loved pleasure."

Thus Franz Ferdinand Trotta, the narrator of The Emperor's Tomb, launches his confession of futility, irrelevance, and humiliation. He's mocking his own folly, one hopes the reader recognizes. That's the whole point of Trotta's `autobiography' -- his profound embarrassment at his life and with the frivolity of his generation, "that arrogant decadence whose doomed but proud sons we all were." Trotta's one other constant emotion is anger, rage at the stupidity of demolishing the old order - the multi-ethnic Hapsburgia - but replacing it with something vastly less worthy, the rising `National Socialism' of the `20s and `30s, where "... they all sing `Die Wach am Rhein'. Austria will perish at the hands of the Nibelungen fantasy, gentlemen!"

Trotta's `narrative voice' is so convincingly personal that many readers have fallen into the error of assuming that he `speaks' for the author. It's not so. Joseph Roth was not a "Trotta", not an aristocrat, not even a recently coined one. He was certainly not an idle dilettante, and not a gentile. Roth was a Jew from a stetl on the outer edge of Galicia, and a busy leftist journalist throughout the `20s, the period when his character Trotta purports to be unburdening himself of his dislillusionment. If there's a prototype of Roth himself in "The Emperor's Tomb", it's the `gifted' son of Trotta's Jewish companion-in-arms, the young radical who is killed in an aborted revolution. Trotta does not speak for Roth except in his realization that his privileged circle of Viennese intellectuals were in fact no better than smug drones. Trotta is above all an object of satire, and Roth toys with him sardonically by letting him satirize himself most cruelly.

The Emperor's Tomb is usually taken to be a sequel to Roth's novel "The Radetsky March". That's a misperception. The two works are of different genres. The Radetsky March is what German critics call a "Roman" -- a work of large scale, with many themes, a `novel of generations' narrated from the dispassionate distance of third-person. The Emperor's Tomb is a `novella', just 150 pages, and fiercely concentrated on its single theme of folly. Yes, the narrator is a Trotta, as he announce is the first sentence -- "Our name is Trotta" -- and reasserts in his last phrase -- "So where could I go now, a Trotta?" His fictional grandfather's brother was the Slovenian peasant soldier who saved the Emperor's life at the Battle of Solferino, for which the family was ennobled. That's the starting-point of The Radetsky March, a grand depiction of the inherent weaknesses of the great Austro-Hungarian Empire, which inevitably led to its collapse. This sly novella, The Emperor's Tomb, is more a comic monologue, an `aside' rather than a sequel.

I didn't use the word "comic" casually. The Emperor's Tomb is a very comic book, though the humor is of the caustic sort that curls your lips in a sneer rather than a smile. Trotta is just decent enough, human enough, to attract the reader's sympathy as he mocks his generations shallow nostalgia for the Empire they were unworthy of sustaining. Nostalgia is the target of Roth's mockery, not the expression of his own sentiment. Clearly Roth himself regretted the collapse of the `old order' of the mult-ethnic Hapsburg Empire, though he understood better than anyone why it had to collapse. And just as clearly, Roth detested the `new order' of Middle Europe in the aftermath of the Great War. Well, who wouldn't? Roth had the tragic misfortune of living out his writing career in full awareness of the impending calamity, the rise of the Nazi state and the destruction of his Jewish-European community. Only rarely did Roth ever announce his Jewishness overtly in his books, but it was nonetheless central to everything he wrote. "Trotta" is not a Jew. Trotta speaks about anti-semitism as a phenomenon outside his own existence. If the modern reader supposes that Joseph Roth was concealing his identity as a Jew, that reader should look at the collection of Roth's essays titled "What I Saw" in English, where Roth describes with pride the role Jews had had in the intellectual life of Middle Europe in the era of his life, and laments the stupid, vicious, unforgivable destruction of that life.

Roth died in Paris in 1939, of ill-health brought on by suicidal alcoholic excess. He knew what was coming ...

3-0 out of 5 stars Who kills, will be killed
This book is a long jeremiad on the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after the 1st World War. It expresses the nostalgia of the nobility for the spirit of the ancient monarchy, where a preferential place in society was reserved for them. But the war destroyed everything: position, class, estate, money, values, past, present and future.
The central theme in this novel is `death': literary (no instinct of procreation)and also symbolically (no fatherland).

Written in a profound melancholic tone, this novel is mainly based on a fundamental contradiction. Joseph Roth (through the words of Baron Trotta) believed that only the Habsburgs could maintain and manage a federation of all the people of the Balkan. But, the Habsburgs themselves are responsible for the war disaster and, concomitantly, for the collapse of their empire.

Only for Joseph Roth fans.

2-0 out of 5 stars Dull
Joseph Roth's `The Emperor's Tomb' is a curious work of nostalgia about the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the reconstruction of modern Austria through the eyes of a single individual. Unfortunately, one gets the impression that Roth's prose never really gets through in translation as the English remains are often clunky and awkward. Additionally, the novel is filled with unremarkable scenes of peasant life which fail to capture any of the idealism that Roth was apparently striving for. We are left with dull flat characters and dull flat scenarios, often with clumsy marks of emphasis and detail. This may be the result of the fact that `Emperor's Tomb' is essentially a transitional work in Roth's epic quasi-trilogy. Nevertheless, a tremendously overrated novel.

3-0 out of 5 stars DC Harvard Alums Book Club gives 3.5 stars to The Emperor's Tomb
The DC Harvard Alums Book Club recently read THE EMPEROR'S TOMB and the group recommends this fascinating, first-person "history" of the end of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.The 1st person narative was surprisingly effective and holds your attention through out the story.Club members felt that Roth seemed to "get away with" breaking most of the rules of fiction, e.g. Roth tells, he does not show. Roth captures the boredom and general uselessness of the cafe society prior to the WW I and how the main character changes with the war, his marriage and return to Vienna.The club members concluded that you do not have to read Roth's masterpiece, RADINSKY'S MARCH, (another club selection) to enjoy THE EMPEROR'S TOMB. ... Read more

11. Confession of a Murderer: Told in One Night
by Joseph Roth
Paperback: 223 Pages (2003-01-15)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$4.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1585673846
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
In a Russian restaurant on Paris's Left Bank, Russian exile Golubchik alternately fascinates and horrifies a rapt audience with a vivid and compelling story of collaboration, deception, and murder. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars An Allegory? But of What...
This "Confession" has an atypical structure for Joseph Roth; it's a "second-hand first-person" narrative, just the sort of structure that another Joseph - Joseph Conrad - exploited so brilliantly. The author/narrator who opens and closes the novella can be presumed to speak for Roth himself. His words are only parentheses around the tale told by the Russian exile Golubchik (Little Dove) to a table of strangers over copious drinks one night in a closed bistro in Paris. Golbuchik is the bastard son of a Russian aristocrat, a personage of wealth and power in Tsarist times. Golubchik is inflamed with resentment at his status. By a twist of Fate - and Golubchik is convinced of the inexorable might of Fate - he becomes an agent of the Tsarist secret police, and thus a man who commits heinous crimes against humanity with immunity from any punishment except that which his own conscience inflicts upon him. Yet his most villainous act is a mere side-effect of the murder he commits. But is he truly a murderer? I won't answer that question for you.

It's the portrayal of the 'secret police' -- those 'necessary' evils of any tyranny, whose actions are not answerable even to their own tyrants -- that compels a reader's interest in this book. Golubchik's confession of their villainies, never more than hinted at, is in effect Roth's prophesy of the KGB and the Stasi; as a journalist, of course, he'd had ample exposure to the secret police of pre- and post-revolutionary Russia and of the Third Reich. What he reveals is no secret any more, but just as chilling as it was in the 1920s and '30s. Golubchik himself, or as he describes himself, is tormented by his own double identity, an inseparable bonding of narcissism and self-loathing, a fusion of good and evil that reminds me of the Arian/Bogomil/Donatist heresy that was never thoroughly repressed in the Austro-Hungarian Europe from which Roth emerged. It seems fairly obvious that Roth the novelist intended this "Confession of a Murderer" as a parable or allegory of larger issues, of the inevitable results of arrogant power over the lives of others. In fact, just such a parable as is expressed in the film of that title, "The Lives of Others." But I won't try to explicate Roth's insights; you, dear reader, must save that pleasure for yourself.

Golubchik's narrative incorporates a kind of Faust story. His 'Mephisto' is a mysterious Hungarian, of great elegance but with a peculiar limp, who inexplicably reappears at every moment of decision in Golubchik's life. The bewildered Golubchik comes to believe that, though God is non-existent, his Hungarian shadow is in fact the Devil. That's a perception not necessarily credited by the author/narrative, not at least until the devilish fellow approaches Roth himself...All the more allegorical the story seems!

Roth never quite renders the voice of Golubchik as vividly individual and persuasive as Conrad was able to do, or as Roberto Bolaño does in his 'confessional' novella "By Night in Chile. "Beichte eines Mörders; erzählt in einer Nacht" -- the title in German -- is not one of Roth's finest accomplishments. It falls short precisely because the voice of Golubchik is too generic. That's the reason for my four-star rating, based on my sense that "Confession" doesn't match the literary glory of Roth's "The Rebellion", "Job", and "The Radetzky March". Still, even a four-star novella by Joseph Roth is quite worth reading.

1-0 out of 5 stars it was clearly one long night
The premise of this novel offers so much - a taut murderous confession in one sitting by a man who still professes to consider himself "a good man". Yet given the narrator spends the rest of the novel berating himself or rather wallowing in his consistently evil conduct and repeated acts of atrocity, I never detected any conviction that he regarded himself as inherently good.

It can be difficult to really gauge a novel when not reading it in its first language - a gifted as the translator might be. I found this novella clunky and tiresome, with no pacing or suspense. The novel grinds towards the inevitable without engendering any sympathy for Golubchik or those who suffer at his hands.

I would not recommend this novel.

4-0 out of 5 stars Incomplete but Compelling
As I read this novel I couldn't help but ask myself, "What ismissing?"There was some intangible quality - evident in other Rothnovels - that was noticeably absent here.I came to realize that it was asense of place: this is a story of international scope, bringing us from apeasant's hut in rural Russia to the cosmopolitan St. Petersburg to pre-WWIParis, and yet none of these places come to life like the Vienna of"The Tale of the 1002nd Night," the Berlin of "Right andLeft" or the tramp's paradise of "The Legend of the HolyDrinker."That said, the saving grace of this piece is the storyitself, a chilling tale of obsession and murder purportedly told by theformer Russian secret agent Golubchick; as he weaves his tale for a raptaudience, much like a ghost story around a campfire, we as readers aredrawn into his futile quest to claim the noble name of his real father, hisdestructive love affair with the flighty Lutetia and his hatred for hishalf-brother, the rightful Prince.And then just when we have given overour sympathies to this defeated man we are forced to question ourperceptions and our notions of the truth.Read this story and you will beenchanted along with the other drunks in the Russian restaurant in thesmall hours of the morning - that is the true power of this novel. ... Read more

12. The Collected Stories of Joseph Roth
by Joseph Roth
Paperback: 288 Pages (2003-03)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$8.10
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 039332379X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
The Collected Stories, in its variety and force, is the essential introduction to the fiction of Joseph Roth.

Appearing in English for the first time, The Collected Stories of Joseph Roth includes seventeen novellas and stories that echo the intensity and achievement of his greatest novel, The Radetzky March. Spanning the entire range of Roth's brief life (1894-1939) and showcasing the breadth of his literary powers, this collection features many stories just recently discovered. Roth's novellas and short stories will rank with Chekhov's as among the greatest of modern literature. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

3-0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Joseph Roth is best known for his masterful novel, `The Radetzky March,` a powerful and evocative picture of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy's final days as witnessed by one of its loyal, aristocratic scions, Franz Von Trotta.Written in sparse, journalistic prose, `The Radetzky March` nevertheless draws the reader into the colorful, many-tongued conglomerate of the Hapsburg Empire.While such a simple and monochromatic style might have failed a lesser craftsman, Roth brings the places and people of Mitteleuropa to life with his sweeping and Tolstoyian portraits.

`Collected Stories of Joseph Roth` falls far short of the standard set by `The Radetzsky March.`Compiled from Roth`s lesser-known pieces, this collection of stories, with a few exceptions, is disappointing.While slugging through one uninspired and undeveloped story after another, one feels that esteemed translator, Michael Hoffman, was picking from the bottom of the barrel when putting together this collection.

The main problem with these stories is their sketchy and unfinished quality.Sketches like, `The place I want to tell you about...,`or `This morning a letter arrived...,` throw the reader into unexplained situations with characters skeletal at best.In `The Cartel,`Roth experiments with territory out of the realm of his experience.A tale of elopement, `The Cartel` takes place in the United States, a world distinctly foreign to Roth'scontinental sensibilities. The Anglo-American characters stumble around and never convince.In `Youth,` Roth attempts an autobiographical sketch in the manner of Joyce's `Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.`While candid and charming in parts, with only eight spartan pages, `Youth` gives only a vague taste of what Roth's childhood might have been like.

A few of these stories do manage to reach completion.The collection's first story, `The Honors Student,` is one such example.In this psychological profile, narrator Roth tracks the painstaking, meticulous ways of the diligent gymnasium student, Anton Wackl.Singularly devoted to his studies, Anton earns the contempt of his fellow students and the esteem of his teachers.Anton's one-sided scholar's life soon devolves as he reaches adulthood.The harmless pedant grows into an immature and malicious adult who controls and manipulates his human relationships with the same passion he exhibited in his studies.

In `Career,` Roth expounds on one of his central themes: the importance of loyalty, in particular, loyalty to one's social betters: headmasters, bosses, generals, aristocrats or Franz Joseph himself (Roth was a fervent monarchist and supporter of the Old Regime).Fastidious accountant Gabriel Stieglecker plies his trade at various established finance houses until one day he is offered a significant pay raise by a newly arrived firm.Stieglecker is forced to choose between his loyalties and his ambitions.For Roth, the commercial and moral free-for-all of 1920`s Central Europe was abhorrent and Stieglecker`s painful moral dilemma mirrors Roth's own:to embrace the modern, self-seeking Europe or stand steadfast beside a value system doomed to oblivion.

Roth's longer stories fare much better in this collection.`Stationmaster Fallmerayer` is a well-crafted story of doomed romance.This stark love story between a lowly Austrian stationmaster and an aristocratic Russian countess opens with the lovers meeting during a horrific train accident.Yet, as the relationship progresses, the story gradually weakens.Stationmaster Fallmerayer and Countess Walewska enjoy an unfettered and happy courtship and subsequent marriage until one day, her husband (long thought missing in the Great War) shows up at their doorstep.While the ensuing ménage could have been developed into an intense crescendo, Roth simply ends the tale with Fallmerayer`s abrupt and unexplained disappearance.Plausible yes, but even this turn of events could have been fleshed out more.Such halting and arbitrary endings are all too common in many of these stories giving them a hurried quality.

`Collected Stories` does contain two fine pieces:`The Bust of the Emperor` and `Leviathan.``The Bust of the Emperor` is Roth at his best, describing the final days of the Hapsburg Empire as seen through the eyes of one of its unflagging and doomed supporters. Count Franz Xaver Morstin is a `true Austrian` according to Roth, one loyal to a supranational `Austro-Hungarian` identity rather than to a narrow, ethnic, `tribal` heritage.Count Morstin is loyal to the Emperor and Empire alone rather than to his mixed Polish-Italian ancestry.Moreover, Morstin exhibits another quintessential Rothian value in that he treats those beneath him with a sense of noblesse oblige.Morstin is beloved on his Galician estates for exactly this:taking care of his underlings` needs.He intercedes when local boys are impressed into military service, keeps the taxes low, distributes money to the beggars, protects the Jewish merchants, mediates in all disputes and is one giant `godfather` to those under his patronage.

Yet, for Roth, Morstin`s most endearing and most `Austrian` trait is his loyalty to the Emperor, Franz Joseph, even when Emperor and Empire exist no more.Homeless and adrift, Morstin wanders post-Great War Europe horrified at the changes that have upended the old world and its values of loyalty and constancy in the face of crisis.Returningto his Galician lands which now belong to the new nation-state of Poland, Morstin neither accepts nor adapts to his new `homeland.`Dressed in his Austrian cavalry uniform, he travels his estates as if the Monarchy still existed.Moreover, in front of his manor house stands a bust of his beloved emperor.The count continues with this untenable delusion until the outside world finally intrudes and forces him to finally bury the past.

In `Bust of the Emperor` as in `Radetzsky March,` Roth brings to life a moribund Europe and those unfortunate souls trapped in its dying.Yet, with `Bust of the Emperor,` Roth interjects more of his personal insights than he did in `Radetzsky March.`Not only is Count Morstin Roth`s exemplar of true nobility, he is also a mouthpiece for the author as well.According to Morstin (Roth), nationalism is the disease that terminally weakened the body Hapsburg.Morstin longs for the days when,"...people in Tarnapol, Sarajevo, or Prague were all `Austrians` rather than part of the Ukrainian, Bosnian or Czech `nations.`"With an allusion to Hitler, Roth claims that nationalism found its most fervent adherents among those considered failures under the Empire's social hierarchy "...artistic painters insufficiently talented, disgruntled schoolteachers...all those who pressed fatuous claims to unlimited status within bourgeois society."

If the `Collected Stories' has one standout, then `Leviathan` would be it.It is the story of Nissen Piczenik who makes his livelihood selling tropical corals to the local peasant women in his forgotten corner of the Hapsburg Empire.Uneducated and devoid of skill save that of picking the finest crimson corals, Nissen is the most esteemed figure in his dusty, backwoods hometown.For him, corals are far more than decoration; with their blood-red color, they represent the purity of life itself. Yet, when a new peddler arrives in town with cheaper, artificial corals, Nissen is forced into a critical dilemma: join forces with his competitor or stay loyal to his beloved corals and thus suffer the inevitable consequences.

Nissen is the `Collected Stories` subtlest and most developed character, a virile, vital flesh and blood personage no doubt drawn from Roth's rural childhood.With considerable acumen, Roth exposes the myriad of conflicting forces that drive Nissen to his tragic end.Ignorant of the world outside his hometown, Nissen hungers for new experience, especially that of the sea, where he believes a giant `leviathan` sea monster guards the coral beds.Like Count Morstin, Nissen clutches to a dying world.Realizing that his corals, symbols of a purer, simpler world, are endangered by the artificial arrivals, Nissen refuses to compromise and thereby seals his fate.

Like his creations Morstin and Nissen, Roth was prisoner to a place and time whose day had long since passed.He refused to compromise with the crass and sinister world that had replaced his beloved Hapsburg Empire.As such, Joseph Roth was uniquely placed to pen the final days of a dying empire and the homeless children it begot.This is the Joseph Roth of `The Radetzsky March` and the better stories of this collection.And it is for these he should be remembered.

5-0 out of 5 stars Collected Brilliance
A sheer literary clinic in the art of the erzhalungen / short story. Roth's cool-headed, knowing, bittersweet, deeply human, and, according to Brodsky, ultimately poetic collection is a delight that keeps on giving. True, a few of the stories included were still 'in progress,' or simply unfinished, but the aggregate offer a tantalizing glimpse at the breadth of Roth's story-telling power. 'The Honors Student' 'The Cartel' and 'This morning a letter arrived...' are personal favorites; the reputations of 'Stationmaster Fallmerayer' and 'The Bust of the Emperor' (both published in Overlook's very fine Three Novellas) are well-known. It is a priceless portraiture of a vanished time and place whose dual emotional and entertainment value far outpace quite a number of his better-known contemporaries. It is high time this author received the attention his works richly deserve from the American ivory tower.

5-0 out of 5 stars Short fiction as great as his novels
In recent years, Joseph Roth has emerged as one of my very favourite writers.It is quite a puzzle that the author of such works as The Radetzky March, Job and Rebellion remains largely unknown to so many English-speaking readers - and even those well acquainted with modern European literature, and the likes of Thomas Mann.Several wonderful translators - not least of them, the poet Michael Hoffman - are helping to correct this sorry situation.Hoffman's rendition of The Collected Stories of Joseph Roth is the latest service in a great cause, as it shows Roth also had a gift for short fiction.With his characteristic lyricism, and precise depiction of conflicted, and all-too-human characters, Roth creates several more memorable stories.Anyone familiar with Roth's work might recognize the haunting Stationmaster Fallmerayer, as this is perhaps the best known work in this collection.Certainly they will recognize Stationmaster as vintage Roth, once read, as it is redolent of the writer's unique ability to capture the simple tragedy of simple lives, sensitively, but without sentimentality.The same can be said of The Bust of the Emperor, which contains echoes of the novel The Emperor's Tomb.A particular favourite of mine was Barbara, the responsible mother, "Didn't the name sound like hard labor", who knows responsibility to her son, but perhaps not to herself.How many writers, Chekhov aside, can distil with such poignancy a character's whole emotional life in a mere eight brief pages?

It is a glorious collection.Buy it, read it, keep it by your side for future reference. ... Read more

13. Die Rebellion
by Joseph Roth
Paperback: 121 Pages (2005-09-30)

Isbn: 346203636X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Customer Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars Disabled Veteran "Job"
Rebellion, by Joseph Roth, reminds me a bit of the aftermath of the Vietnam war.
What do we do with disabled veterans?Does a combat veteran's service entitle him to health care for his wounds and occupational training to secure him a civilian job? Are veterans entitled to the respect of the citizens and officials of the country they served?Many Vietnam veterans claim their service was not honored in the USA.Set in Austria at the end of World War I, "Rebellion", a novel by Joseph Roth, dramatizes the question of the handling of veterans of any war.

In "Rebellion", Andreas Pum, an Austrian World War I disabled veteran expected that the Austrian nation would secure his daily needs.Many of his fellow veterans were placed in the hospital, while some were sent away with nothing. Authorities gaveAndreas a medal and pensioned him to a job playing a crank model barrel organ, which he calls a "hurdy-gurdy".Andreas lost a leg in the war, but despite his disability he gets a permit to seek alms by playing his barrel organ in streets of the city.He is a happy and hopeful man, who still believes in his country, his government, and his God. .

Rebellion is a classic allegorical novel, that many claim is based upon the Bible's book of Job.There are many similarities between the stories of Job and Andreas.Comparing the two in detail could spoil the book for some people.Instead, I will focus upon general themes.

There are two themes in Rebellion worth noting.First this is a novel about social justice and politics. What rights does a citizen have? Are the rights different by economic class, gender, and ethnic background? Does God or government grant and enforce those rights? Are the police and courts a tool of influential citizens?Are the police and courts required to balance matters of law with ethics?

The next theme of the story is about theology.Is God powerful, good and just?Why do bad things happen to good people? Does God care for us and His creation?Does God intervene in matters of dispute among His creatures?

Joseph Roth is a superior author.Much of his writing is beautiful and poetic.His themes demand thoughtful consideration.Roth's descriptions are wonderful, precise, and detailed.In one special scene that involves several characters,Roth allows us to witness their inner thoughts and motives.By the end of the scene the reader knows, with confidence, the exact motivation of each character's actions.The book is like a mini course in psychology.

I highly recommend "Rebellion". This novel teaches lessons that are still applicable today.

4-0 out of 5 stars Hang on for the Concluding Diatribe
In REBELLION, Andreas Pum, a German soldier who lost a leg in World War I, is transformed. As REBELLION begins, Andreas is a true believer who considers the government just and fair and determined to reward his loyal service. But then, Andreas has transformative experiences that cause him to forsake this view and to rebel. In a concluding diatribe, Andreas reviles all the power structures that he initially revered.

In following Andreas on this journey, Roth initially presents a cartoon-like protagonist, who holds tightly to a cluster of superficial beliefs that are actually refuted by the details of his meager existence. Likewise, Roth shows Andreas establishing a highly implausible relationship with a woman, who alternates between warm and loving and an apron-wearing dominatrix. For this Andreas, Roth creates a disjointed voice with perceptions that are flat or fluctuate wildly. But then come the transformative experiences, after which Andreas acknowledges the rejection and mistreatment that are the content of his life. Then, Roth gives his newly grounded protagonist the voice of a poet, and "...his soul gave birth to words, angry purple words, a thousand, ten thousand, a million words... They had slept within him, tamed by his miserable intellect, atrophied under the cruel veneer of his life. Now they sprouted and fell from him like blossoms from a tree."

A slightly weird book with an amazing change in tone after the clueless Andreas is jailed. Hang tough to the end! Recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Bonfire of misfortunes (It does not pay to be a philosopher!)
Rebellion was one of J.Roth's early novels, coming out in 1924, and yet, he had found his voice already! These are the same brilliant short sentences that I find so intriguing in his late masterpieces like the Holy Drinker or False Weight. Of course, with the man dying young, the time span between `early' and `late' is a bare 15 years.
Roth often wrote about people, who were down on their luck, but amazingly, he did not sink in misery, his writing is full of funny and ironic poetry.

Rebellion is about Andreas, a Lumpenprolet, Viennese WW1 veteran and invalid, crippled by a leg amputation. His first stroke of good luck is that the government allows him to play the barrel organ in the streets, to have him off welfare. Sort of legalized begging, turning entrepreneurial. What about investing, say a donkey and a stable?
Second, and even luckier: an attractive proletarian widow takes to him and takes him in. He is riding high on his wave. Think of the hero of the Bonfire of Vanities before he takes the wrong turn on the streets of New York and ends up in deep trouble. Andreas takes his wrong turn when he climbs a tram car at the wrong time at the wrong place and has a disagreement with the wrong antagonist. Things go out of control from here.

While I read Andreas' story, I could not stop thinking of Franz Biberkopf, Doeblin's one-armed sub-hero in Berlin Alexanderplatz. Doeblin, when he wanted, could write the same language as Roth. Roth did not include tram schedules, or radio announcements, or political analyses of the Spartakus rebellion. That's why Rebellion is a skinny brother of Alex, but a brother all the same. Or let's settle for a literary ancestor. We do learn about the secret connections between patriotism and public toilets, after all!

One of the puzzles surrounding Roth is the perception of most commentators that he was nostalgic for monarchy. What utter nonsense. Lamenting the terrible development of Germany/Austria after WW1 does not amount to being a monarchist!

5-0 out of 5 stars "Job" Finally Wises Up!
Joseph Roth must have had a special obsession with the Biblical tale of Job, that righteous man whose faith was cruelly tested by God on a 'bet' with Satan. Considered dispassionately, the Biblical story of Job portrays God as a capricious tyrannical egomaniac, and the influence of Zoroastrian dualism can hardly be ignored. Roth's novella "Job", which I've already reviewed, portrays the griefs of a devout Jewish immigrant to New York, whose repudiation of God's 'goodness' is miraculously resolved into a kind of beatitude. It's a very great book, the best of Roth's 'middle period' of success as a liberal journalist. Roth's final masterpiece, "The Holy Drinker", written during his agonized, alcoholic self-exile in Paris, is also a rendition of the Job story; the suffering victim of God's caprice finds an ambiguous beatitude in his dying hallucinations.

"Rebellion" was Roth's last serialized novella published in the radical left-wing press with which the author was associated in his earliest phase of writing. Translator Michael Hofmann reports that "Rebellion" has been the last of Roth's books to be translated into English, a lapse i find almost inexplicable. Hofmann also describes the striking parallels between "Rebellion" and "The Holy Drinker", both in themes and in narrative structure. I can't help thinking that Roth intended "The Holy Drinker" as a riposte to the ecstatic denial of God's 'goodness' which concludes "Rebellion".

The protagonist of "Rebellion", a 'simple' man named Andreas Pums, is an amputee veteran of WW1, awarded a medal and a 'permit' to beg by playing a barrel organ. Pums, like the Biblical Job, is a man of righteous faith,both in God and in the divine right of Government. Those who attack either the Church or the State, in Pums's mind, are 'heathens' -- rebels without cause. But Pums will be tested even more arbitrarily and capriciously than Job. His enlightenment will not be disbelief in God or denial of the might of the State, but rather a poignant realization of the injustice of both.

Many of Roth's novellas, brilliant as they are in concept, seem awkward in structure and hasty in execution. Roth was notorious for his lack of interest in revisions and editings. "Rebellion", however, is a thoroughly polished gem of writing, in my opinion the closest to literary perfection that Roth ever came. The development of Pums's character is deft and dramatic. The narrative 'timing' is flawless. The grotesque simplicity of Pums's 'good times' -- his rise to comfort -- flows like musical modulation into the lyrical intensity of his 'rebellion'. Critic Joseph Brodsky has said that "there is a poem on every page of Joseph Roth." Indeed, I'd say that "Rebellion" is a prose-poem through and through. If there were a Posthumous Nobel Prize for Literature, Joseph Roth should rightfully be the first recipient.

4-0 out of 5 stars Early Novel by Roth
Having recently read Joseph Roth's fine short novel, Job (1930), I decided to turn to an even earlier work by him, Rebellion (Die Rebellion), from 1924. It was originally serialized in the German Socialist newspaper "Vorwarts" (Forward), and published in the same year, 1924. This novel along with The Spider's Web and Hotel Savoy make up what is considered Roth's early period.
Rebellion is the story of young Andreas Pum, a veteran of the Great War who lost a leg but gained a medal for his service. He is a simple man who lives with his friend Willi and plays a hurdy-gurdy. He soon marries the recently widowed Fraulein Blumlich, who, in a scene of melodramatic pathos, deftly elicits his request for her hand in marriage. It is a marriage for which they must wait four weeks to avoid appearing improper; a portent of future disappointments for Andreas. His fortunes take a sudden turn for the worse, set off by a chance altercation with a typical bourgeoisie, Herr Arnold. Andreas soon finds himself facing time in jail. His wife reacts to this by leaving him; he loses his license to perform music, and he even loses his friendly mule(sold by his wife). In jail he experiences a quixotic desire to feed the birds outside his window, but the State, to whom he makes a formal request, will not allow this exception to the rules. The prison doctor who examines him tells him that he should not philosophize: "You should have faith, my friend!"
Things change for the better for his friend Willi whose entrepreneurial instincts awaken and lead him out of poverty; but Andreas is doomed for a bad end. In one of its best moments, the story ends with a dream-like sequence where we experience Andreas' last feelings. He is facing the confusion of the after-life and the wonderment expressed: "Andreas began to cry. He didn't know if he was in Heaven or Hell."
The novel suggests a more radical thinker than Roth would become in his great novels, Job and The Radetzky March. Yet, there are signs of the later Roth, and having recently read Job I see suggestions of the musings of Mendel Singer in the thoughts of young Andreas. Both men have seemingly been betrayed by their God and are trying to deal with their life in his apparent absence. In Andreas' case the rebellion has a resonance with the rebellion so finely depicted in Dostoevsky (esp. The Brothers Karamazov). The result for the reader is a short novel that is long on provocative ideas that linger in the mind. ... Read more

14. Beichte eines Mörders, erzählt in einer Nacht
by Joseph Roth
Paperback: 167 Pages (2005-03-31)

Isbn: 346203491X
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

15. The Tale of the 1002nd Night: A Novel
by Joseph Roth
Paperback: 272 Pages (1999-10-29)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$14.74
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312244940
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Vienna of the late nineteenth century, with its contrasting images of pomp and profound melancholy, provides the backdrop for Joseph Roth's final novel, which he completed in exile, a few years before his tragic death in 1939. This brilliant, allegorical tale of seduction and personal and societal ruin, set amidst exquisite, wistful descriptions of a waning aristocratic age, provides an essential link to our understanding of Roth's extraordinary fictive powers.
Amazon.com Review
Before his death in 1939, Joseph Roth produced 13 works offiction--most of them sardonic valentines to the Austro-HungarianEmpire. As a Galician Jew, not to mention a biting social critic, Rothknew that life under the Dual Monarchy was not exactly flawless. Yethe retained a deep attachment to the old regime, which must havelooked more and more civilized as the Nazis came to power. In 1933 hefled to Paris, where he commenced a slow, alcoholically inducedsuicide--managing, however, to write several more books, of whichThe Tale of the 1002nd Night was the last to appear.

Like so many of Roth's novels, this one is a celebration of Vienna in itspre-Anschluss days--during the 1870s, to be precise. "At this time,"we're informed, "the world was deeply and frivolously at peace." In keepingwith the frivolity, perhaps,Roth puts a fairy-tale-like spin on hismemories. He opens The Tale of the 1002nd Night with a state visitby the Shah of Iran, transforming historical fact into whimsical fiction.And once he shifts the narrative to Vienna proper, his characters maketheir entrances and exits with brilliant, dreamlike rapidity. It would betempting to compare the entire story--which revolves around the seductionand abandonment of the prostitute Mizzi Schinagl by the boneheaded BaronTaittinger--to a puppet show. But these puppets are capable of registeringdeep pain and transformation. Taittinger, for example, gets to utter thefirst honest sentence of his adult life: "He had caught himself telling thetruth; and for the first time in many years he blushed, the way he had onceblushed as a boy when he'd been caught telling a lie." And even Mizzi, theflattest character in a book full of wafer-thin ones, has her moments ofelectrifying humanity:

She became terribly sad. Her simple soul wasbriefly illumined, indirectly and at a lower wattage, by the light thatmakes older and wiser people so happy and so sad: the light ofunderstanding. She understood the sorrow and futility of everything.
Roth, too, understood that sorrow. But in The Tale of the 1002ndNight, which has been beautifully translated by Michael Hofmann, hecounters its gravitational pull with small, stunning perceptions and a kindof bemused decency. Indeed, Roth the novelist has precisely the"calculating kindliness" he ascribes to one Herr Efrussi--and this, he goeson to point out, is "the only sort that doesn't wreak destruction on thisearth." --James Marcus ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars Roth Joseph en France
Joseph Roth's last full length novel is, as usual for him, a surprise. Published during the year of his death in exile in Paris, 1939, it contains no trace at all of its times.

It is a `historical' story, going back to Vienna in the previous century. It starts like a light-handed comedy, but turns into a dark tale of decadence and ruin. Main protagonists are a brainless aristocratic playboy (an officer and a gentleman), who is utterly destroyed by his own stupidity, and his naïve romantic girlfriend from simple circumstances, who has an illegitimate son from him, drifts into the service industry, strikes it rich, temporarily, due to unlikely events (see the novel's title), then loses all and more, due to her own simplicity. Catalysts of bad fate are a smart `business woman' who causes the downfall of the girl, and a reporter in need of cash who finishes the fool.

The novel is to some extent less `Rothian' than most of his other fiction. It has a touch of Maupassant. So maybe his Parisian exile did have an effect after all? One could say, it is more conventional than many of his shorter texts.
The baron has a property at the end of the Austrian world, which is run by an administrator who robs the baron blind. There is a scene when the baron receives a letter from his manager, informing him about his imminent ruin. The baron is bored, which reminded me of Gogol's Dead Souls. In a similar situation, the landowner says to his manager: why do you have to give me the bad news? Tell me something happy, so that I forget the bad news!
Compared to his last published piece of fiction, The Legend of the Holy Drinker, which was written and set in Paris, this novel is a straightforward tale. I mean, if you can accept a Shah of Persia visiting Vienna and asking for the prettiest countess at the ball, as a gift from the Austrian Emperor... (Rather more civilized procedure than the Sheikh who buys himself 4 virgins in the Parisian meat market in the film Taken, which I just happened to watch.)

5-0 out of 5 stars "In the spring of the year 18_____, ....
... the Shah-in-Shah, the exalted, holy ruler, the absolute lord of all the lands of Persia, began to feel a kind of malady he'd never felt before..."

Joseph Roth's "Tale of the 1002nd Night" begins sketchily. It's hard to tell, though the first 60-70 pages, whether the book aspires to be a broad satire of autocracy both Persian and Austrian, or a genial fairy tale of the Arabian Nights genre. Roth is pungent as a satirist, as caustic as anyone could wish, but this satire seems altogether too bloodless, like the synopsis of a Rossini opera without the music. For a man who wrote diligently and copiously, Roth was not a disciplined writer, and for a journalist who foresaw the course of German and world history through the '20s and '30s with devastating acumen, he was probably not a disciplined thinker. One has the impression that he sat down in a cafe one day, had an idea for a novella about the visit of an Oriental despot to Old Vienna, and started writing...

The Shah comes to Vienna. He is dazzled, momentarily. At an Imperial ball, he notices a beautiful Countess, falls in lust at first sight, demands that she be procurred. Consternation! The court eunuchs and the Viennese police crave help from a certain Baron Taittinger, a feather-brained officer of cavalry on special court assignment. Taittinger 'supplies' his own mistress, Mizzi Shinagl, who has become a prostitute after being seduced by the dashing baron himself. The Shah is bamboozled, spends a night of bliss with Mizzi, wakes the next morning with his old malaise unrelieved, orders his eunuch to buy the false countess a gift -- a string of pearls worth a royal ransom, as it turns out -- and returns glumly with his harem of 365 to his own realm....

... and that's when the novel really begins! Once the Shah is dispatched, Roth is free to depict the city he knew -- pre-WW1 Vienna -- and the people he knew, his own multifarious kith and kin, high-born and low-lifely, of the Dual Monarchy, Austria-Hungary under the sublime misguidance of the last Hapsburg Emperor. This was, of course, familiar literary territory, the scene of Roth's acknowledged masterpiece, "The Radetzky March." In fact, the strains of Johann Strauss's Radetzky March will be heard in "1002nd Night", played by a military band as the senile Emperor is wheeled in his carriage along the streets of Vienna, in a chapter of poignant irony near the end of the Tale. Any critical misinterpretation of Roth's work, assuming that he wallowed in nostalgia for the old verities of Hapsburgia/Kakania, will be refuted once and for all by a reading of "1002nd Night." The society depicted here is futile, frivolous, frigid, moribund, and comically hapless. It's a world of such frightened foolishness that "The Good Soldier Schweik" would thrive unnoticed, and knave like "Simplicius" would rule. The only hint of nostalgia here is the writer's obvious love for the city of Vienna itself, which he describes so genially and from which he is forever exiled.

The hopelessly decadent Baron Taittinger and the childish but 'zaftig' Mizzi Shinagl are the 'principals' of this sly and craftily-written novella, once the embarrassing Shah has been sent home. Mizzi converts her pearls into two years of bewildering luxury, after which her fortune and her fortunes drizzle back to earth. Baron Taittinger's sleazy triumph is also his downfall; his reputation is stained and he's sent back to his regiment. But the Baron is resiliently inept at any aspect of life that doesn't confirm his sense of entitlement; his career will also drizzle, and his painfully slow realization of his own futility is the core of Roth's narrative. A colorful cast of goons and scoundrels sings the opera buffa chorus behind the richly dissonant duets of Taittinger and Shinagl. One of the briefest, but most amusing, moments at center stage falls to an Italian, Tino Percoli, a craftsman of wax figures for a 'panopticon' side-show. Old Tino has the last recitative of the novella: "I might be capable of making figures that have heart, conscience, passion, emotion, and decency. But there's no call for such as that in this world. People are only interested in monsters and freaks, so I give them their monsters. Monsters are what people want."

What to make of a novel that takes a fifth of its pages to get rolling, but then is as brilliantly crafted as anything Roth ever wrote? Was the man doggedly aloof from editing his own work, or allowing anyone else to do so? Jedoch, sagt man auf Deutsch. What you get is what you get. Plow through the sketchy account of the Shah-in-Shah's royal tourism, and then get ready for a wacky ride through a culture in its monstrous dotage. The last four-fifths of "1002nd Night" are Roth at his most brilliant.

4-0 out of 5 stars Sometime there isn't anyone behind the curtain
Roth's last novel before he drank himself to death in 1939 Paris is his farewell to Fin-de-siecle Vienna and the Austro-Hungarian Empire/Kingdom/uh. Monarchy.Take your pick as what to call the late 1800s Dual Monarchy which was known as the K and K (Empire and Kingdom).Mostly this story follows the adult lives of lower class merchant girl and an aristocratic member of the Cavalry (a Baron, whose name, Tattinger, is a french champagne).

But what we are really treated to is a view of how at a time of peace, in the latter half of the 19th century, the average person was no smarter or more engaged with the world than your lowly serf or peasant.People were only involved on the surface of what was happening in the world and were very happy for parties, pretty costumes (uniforms for the officers) and a life without problems.

While the book was written in interwar Paris, Roth was mirroring what was happening in much of Europe, post-The Great War.Europe was trying it's best to go on as if the war never happened the same way that 1870s Vienna tried to ignore it's ignominious loss in 1866 to Prussia.The loss forced the creation of the Dual Monarchy, and the sharing of power by the Empire
(reflected by Franz Josef) with the largest of it's multiple minorities.Vienna was spending it's time ignoring the loss of 'actual' Great Power status by 'dressing up the pig'. (No matter how much make-up, clothes and jewels you put on a pig, it's still a pig.)

The sarcasm that Roth directs at the aristocracy, is both biting (and to most of us in this century, old hat) and funny.Baron Tattinger, who would have made a great blond, is the airhead of airheads.When he is forced to look at 'people' for the first time, he is amazed to find that his company sergeant (whom he has known for thirteen years) actually reads and has a history prior to joining the Cavalry. Wow! Right up there with Newton getting hit with an apple.The Baron has trouble fitting him into his world view of the three levels of people: interesting, so-so or boring.

The book loses a lot of it's strength being read in the 21st century, where we have George Bush and Karl Rove, acting like royalty who can do no wrong and Rumsfeld running around yelling 'off with their heads'.But the sarcasm does hold up and comes through after all these years.

4-0 out of 5 stars too much real life for these fringe characters
Chekhov once said--okay, I got this from one of those greeting cards you find sold in urban bookstores--"Any idiot can handle a crisis; it's this daily life that's wearing me out." But the main characters in this book can handle neither a crisis nor much of daily life.

Brief synopsis: the Shah of Persia travels to Vienna where, at a ball, he spies the beautiful Countess W and desires an evening alone with her. As this won't do, of course, Baron Taittinger is pressed into service to procure a reasonable facsimile. This he does, in the form of Mizzi, a woman the baron has debauched and fathered a son by, and who has subsequently entered Frau Matzner's brothel. Following the expense of his passion, the Shah makes Mizzi a rich woman by presenting her with an enormous string of pearls. The Shah returns home, and misery soon descends upon the baron, the prostitute, and even the madam.

It seems to me that Roth sets up a contrast between the main characters, who come from the fringes of life (high or low) and are absolutely unable to negotiate relationships in any normal way, and secondary characters, who appear on the fringes of the novel and try unsuccessfully to help the others through. This is why others have charged--accurately in a sense--that the characters are "wafer-thin" or "puppet-like" or like wax figures.

Baron Taittinger, in particular, is a cypher who reminds one of the baron, the father, in the Radetzky March: he is unable to cope with anything that does not comport with his status as both a baron and a "Captain of the Horse"--and even those roles he occupies more or less by rote, following rules that he dimly learned at a young age. It is not hard to predict his demise even as one, oddly perhaps, hopes against it. (In this I disagree with the reviewer who says that the reader does not become involved with the characters.)

Last point, if you haven't read Roth before, you have missed out on his excellent plots and brilliant writing, so simple and pithy. A few examples:
the Shah, following his night with Mizzi and realizing that European women are not particularly different from Persian: "He felt like a boy who, after an hour, has broken his new toy."

Mizzi had no understanding of men because "in a so-called house of ill repute...one learned as much about the real world as one might in a girl's boarding school."

The baron's life "contained an incident he could never tell anyone about. It circulated like a foreign body in his bloodstream; every so often it came up to his heart and squeezed it and pricked it and drilled into it."

I'm not doing the book justice, but enough--this is a highly entertaining and provocative novel. I can't bring myself to give it five stars, but let's call it 4.7.

3-0 out of 5 stars "In this short book there is enough for many books."
This quotation from the introduction by Michael Hofmann, poet and translator of four Roth novels, highlights both the delights and limitations of this book. Like the Radetzky March, it has all the ingredients for a greatly exciting read and touches on all aspects of society in the Austro-Hungarian empire--worlds of the court, the army, journalism, night life, the law, popular entertainment, and even prostitution.

Unlike the Radetzky March, however, it is sketchy, and doesn't draw you into the action or involve you with the characters. There's a curious disconnect between the characters and the reader, akin in many ways to the disconnect between most of the characters and each other, perhaps because there are many of them in this short novel, and perhaps because Roth himself felt disconnected, living in exile and dying of alcoholism at the time he wrote it.

The visit of the Shah of Persia and his one-night-stand with a young Viennese woman provide fertile ground for wonderful dialogue and lyrical descriptions, but the characters are like exhibits in the wax museum which plays a part in the conclusion of the novel. In short, this novel is intriguing primarily for its detailed and exacting recreation of an historical context, but its large scope and small size act as barriers to reader involvement.Mary Whipple ... Read more

16. Right and Left and The Legend of the Holy Drinker
by Joseph Roth, Michael Hofmann
Paperback: 304 Pages (1993-06-01)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$2.88
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0879514566
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars portrait of the "lost generation"
I am new to Roth, but I am endlessly fascinated with the inter-war period (1919 - 1939).On the recommendation of Amazon readers, this seemed to be an author (and stories) that would appeal to me.How right they were.(Of course, whether they would appeal to you, is another matter entirely.)As one would expect with the setting (Weimar Germany), "Right and Left" is unsettling; not necessicarily dark or brooding, but uncomfortable as the characters seem adrift in a world they no longer recognize given the trauma and tulmult of WWI - hence the term, "the lost generation."While I can't say I liked Brandeis (in my opinion, the most interesting of the characters), he certainly was more sympathetic than the Bernheim brothers, Theodore and Paul.Each are wrestling with demons - some of their own making, although I suspect Roth was suggesting that they were struggling trying to fit in to a world vastly different from the one they had been promised as younger men ("pre-war" Europe: stability, K-und-K imperialism, the promises of technological comfort and economic prosperity.)

"The Legend of the Holy Drinker" is another type of story entirely.Focusing on a vagabond, Andreas, and a good samaritan gives him 200 Francs - a kings ransom to someone so down on their luck - with the expectation that he pay back the debt to St. Therese when he was able.What ensues is a series of improbable events that border on the miraculous, as Andreas drinks through the money or blows it on clothes, fine meals and comfortable lodging, only to once again stumble on (or be given, or find) 200 Francs.Andreas sincerely wants to pay back St. Therese, but alas, he can't help himself as he burns through the money like a sailor on payday before ultimately the debt is paid.The tone of the two stories could not be more different, although one does get a sense of Roth's style of writing and characterization.Of the two, I much prefered "Holy Drinker" if only for the happy-go-lucky turn of events our protagonist experiences.

Roth apparently has a dry wit, (I am unsure if it is Roth or the translaotr in this instance) and his insight into humanity is both brutally honest but also comassionate.I can certainly understand the attraction and lure of his work - I will be sure to read more by him.Recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Are you one? How many are you?
This question that bothers the village idiot is the main theme of the novel.
Who are we? Do we develop or do we just change?
Right and left: Where is the centre?

Right and Left is not among my best liked J.Roth texts. My most disliked one was Confession of a Murderer. Right and Left is better, but it does not have the lightness of his other tragic stories. Roth was never a humorist, but he did have a sense of humor, and much of what he tells us is playing with words and images.
Here, the language is serious and prodding and stiff. Not Rothian.

It is the story of mainly 3 men during mostly Weimar times mostly in Germany. It does stretch back to Kakanian and Czarist and Wilhelminian times, but that serves mainly to prepare us for the later men. One of the 3 is a half Jewish German Ukrainian who had been pushed back and forth by fate until he decided to make his own life and he escaped the Soviet Union for Weimar Germany. The other 2 are brothers, half Jewish Germans of a declining banker family, snobbish, arrogant. None of the 3 men are your normal hero for identification. You wouldn't root for them.

All three change course and side several times during the story. The man that I am now was born just a few weeks ago.
This is Roth's portrait of a lost generation.
The influential German (Polish Jewish) contemporary critic Marcel Reich- Ranicki is said to have written about Roth (I say 'is said' because I read this in Clive James, not in MRR directly):
Roth always made it easy for his readers, but sometimes hard for those who wanted to interpret him.
Oddly, this can be said even for an unusually explicit tale like this one.

In this edition, the novel is lumped together with the superior Legend of a Holy Drinker. I don't review the Legend here, as I have done that elsewhere. For me, the Legend is one of the great specimen of its species, the novella. Right and Left is not much more than a practice swing of a man in the middle of his brief writing career: just 20 years to cover the aftermath of the pre WW1 period, the effects of Versailles, and the coming of the Third Reich. Right and Left alone would not have merited 5 stars in my view.

5-0 out of 5 stars Don't Get Stuck in the Middle
The English title - Right and Left - of Joseph Roth's 1929 novel 'Rechts und Links' almost automatically suggests a clash between furious Fascism and surly Bolshevism, but such is not the case in this oddly-inconclusive narrative. Roth's subject is the precarious middle -- the haplessly middling Middle Class of Middle Europe amid the false peace between the two World Wars. The three principal characters are also stuck in the middle between Jewish and 'German' identities, being of 'mixed' blood.

Two brothers, Paul and Theodore Bernheim, with a German father and a guardedly Jewish mother, are the anti-protagonists of the novel. Dashing Paul is full of arrogant mediocrity, with a middling measure of charm and the luck of a bottle thrown in the sea with a note in it; it WILL wash ashore somewhere, but the message turns out to be blank. Snarly Theodore is full of mediocre arrogance compounded with raging sibling-envy and self-hatred; half Jewish, he first clings to Brown Shirt anti-semitic nationalism for an identity fix, then finds himself suborned as a journalist-provocateur for a 'liberal' newspaper. The closeted owner of the newspaper is Nikolai Brandeis, a stateless immigrant who has by his own account already lived the lives of three different people. Brandeis is not so much unscrupulous as aloof from scruples; for such a man, getting rich is simply a choice. He is also, metaphorically, the stroller on the beach who snatches Bottle Paul from the waves and reads the blank page.

Brandeis arrives on the scene at the end of Part One of this three-part book, and his appearance rescues both the brothers and the reader from drift. Brandeis is a fascinating character, and interesting characters make interesting reading. It's a literary weakness of this novel that it starts so slowly, that it spends more time than necessary establishing the mediocrity of the brothers. Yes, of course, middling characters must be given middling flaws and suffer middling crises, but for the first time in my experience of reading Joseph Roth I found that I doubted whether he knew where his novel was going next. I'd almost admitted boredom when Brandeis materialized. Brandeis is effectively The Wandering Jew of European imagination, an 'immortal' outsider who re-invents himself at will. All three chief characters are immensely convincing, by the way, and that in itself is enough to rescue 'Right and Left' from novelistic mediocrity. Don't expect to empathize with anyone in this book -- or if you do, take a quick look in the mirror and despair for your life! Roth's treatment of the milieu is bitterly satirical, not unlike that of Sinclair Lewis writing about Main Street America in the same decade. It may be another weakness of the novel that Roth so obviously despises his creatures of imagination, but then how could one not despise such human hollowness? Roth's ruthless sallies of satire are amusing without being funny, but how can one laugh at an entire society slouching toward fascism, as the author perceived so presciently?

This is a long way from Roth's most readable book. There are passages of fierce insight and vivid originality, but there are also pages that Roth might have pruned. Accounts of Roth's personal life suggest that he wrote in extreme haste, with distractions on all sides. I'd certainly not recommend 'Right and Left' for a first encounter with Roth, but for a proven fan like me there is enough substance in the book to justify the reading time and the five-star rating. For a history-minded student of Roth's Europe, the book offers evidence of what William Butler Yeats must have meant when he declared that 'the Center does not hold.'

This volume also includes Roth's last work, the long story The Legend of the Holy Drinker, which I've reviewed previously in another edition.

5-0 out of 5 stars what I first wrote..
The Legend Of The Holy Drinker, Ermano Olmi's film of which won a Palme D'Or in Venice two years ago, was Joseph Roth's final work. He died, a chronic alcoholic, down on his luck at 44, just as the second world war began. A Jew, who was buried a Catholic, he turned from republican radical into an inebriate waver of the Habsburg flag. Michael Hoffman, who after a somewhat pedantic first paragraph translates the work elegantly, says that Roth advanced a sophisticated argument that while drink shortened his life in the medium term, it kept him alive in the short term. Roth spent his last year in an attic room so tiny he could fall out of bed straight into the corridor and roll downstairs to the bar.

The 50-page novella describes a miraculous time in the life of Andreas Kartak, a man who has led a precarious existence sleeping under the bridges of the Seine. Innocent and saintly, in the manner of Peter Sellers in Being There, he finds himself on the receiving end of money, drink, love and friendship. It's a moving miniature ode to dipsomania rather than Bacchus. Take away the miracles and you'll hear it being sung on London's Embankment.

While Roth's work may not qualify him for the legendary status of his great contemporaries, Mann and Musil, his life surely would.
... Read more

17. The Silent Prophet (Works of Joseph Roth)
by Joseph Roth
Paperback: 220 Pages (2003-06)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$7.84
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1585674214
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Examining the mind of a revolutionary and the impersonality of ideology, The Silent Prophet is Roth's self-described Trotsky novel--written around 1928 but never published in the author's lifetime. Based on his own observations during an extended stay in Moscow in the winter of 1926, The Silent Prophet is Roth's vivid attempt to explain the Russian Revolution and its betrayal by exposing the personal motivations of its leaders. The illegitimate and rootless Friedrich Kargan--the Trotsky figure--goes compulsorily but willingly into exile in Siberia after openly defying the coldly amoral Savelli--the novel's Stalin figure. Written at the height of speculation about Trotsky's fate, The Silent Prophet is a brilliant portrayal of revolutionary idealism-turned- cynicism. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

3-0 out of 5 stars Hmmm.....
I've been boosting Joseph Roth as a writer of greatness ever since I read The Radetsky March. That book is correctly acclaimed as his "masterpiece" but I've been excited by his other works as well -- Hotel Savoy, Tarabas, Job -- and I've reviewed all of those. Roth had a real journalist's penetration into his contemporary world, the era of the Great War and the Russian Revolution, combined with a poet's eye for words as things and/or things that carried sensual meaning as words.

This novella The Silent Prophet, nevertheless, doesn't "jell' for me. I wish I hadn't been told that it portrays a Trotsky figure; the expectations of that label interfered with my impression of the central character, the country-less Friedrich Kargan, a figure of utmost depressing anomie. I couldn't quite bring the anonymous narrator into focus, either, as a sometime friend of Kargan's, as a mere observer, what? The narrator revealed himself as a disagreeable cynic, full of disdain for virtually everyone he describes, but was his voice that of Roth or of a fictive collaborator with some facets of the Revolution? Disdain is eventually a cheap-shot, isn't it?

The Silent Prophet was probably written in 1926, apparently submitted to Roth's publisher but rejected, and then relegated to the drawer of unfinished works. Three divergent manuscripts survived until 1966, when the current German text was reconstructed/reassembled and published. The English translation includes sentences and even passages that seem to me inconsistent, even inchoate. I'm not at all sure Roth would be satisfied with the book we have in hand.

There are some passages of great penetration, however, into the process by which an ardent young dissident can become a cynical autocrat. As Roth's narrator says, people will strive toward the Left before the revolution and sag toward the Right after. There are also many of Roth's passages of vivid description -- lyrical outbursts that imply a more humane disposition in his narrator than the scorn he expresses too readily for humanity.

I have to say that this would not be the best choice to read as an introduction to Joseph Roth. Any of the other books mentioned above would be better.

4-0 out of 5 stars The loneliness and alienation of an individual who feels no true sense of home
Joseph Roth was a Jewish writer born in the old Austro-Hungarian Empire in what is now Ukraine. He emigrated to Paris when the Nazis came to power and died there of alcoholism. His works, of which the Radetzky March is the best known, are concerned with the dislocation felt by rootless, wandering people, especially Jews and former citizens of the Austro-Hungary after the collapse of the monarchy during the First World War. Much of Europe before then had consisted of a mosaic of ethnic groups, nationalities and principalities and the author's works often express nostalgia for the vibrant cosmopolitanism of the old monarchical empires.
The Silent Prophet is the story of Russian born Friedrich Kargan (a pastiche of Trotsky), an individual oppressed by his statelessness and lack of social identity due to his illegitimacy. In search of a place and a cause that will give meaning to his life he moves to Vienna where he encounters revolutionaries and reactionaries alike in a period of intense political uncertainty and upheaval in Europe. While there he falls in love for the only time in his life. However, on his first trip back to Russia he is caught by the authorities and sent to Siberia where he escapes (rather easily) back to Europe. Once again he becomes involved in political agitation and returns to Russia after the Revolution fired with idealism. He quickly becomes disillusioned at what he finds; the betrayal of the cause and the embourgeoisement of the former proletariat.
Although a thinly-veiled critique of the cynical personal ambitions of the leaders of the Russian Revolution The Silent Prophet is also a treatise on the loneliness and alienation of an individual who feels no true sense of home and who discovers that the cause with which he aligns himself with boundless hope and devotion turns out to be merely an illusion.
... Read more

18. Hotel Savoy.
by Joseph Roth
Paperback: 128 Pages (2003-03-01)
-- used & new: US$9.14
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 3423130601
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Hotel Savoy ist ein Roman von Joseph Roth, der vom 9. Februar bis 16. März 1924 in der Frankfurter Zeitung vorabgedruckt wurde. Im selben Jahr erfolgte der Druck in Berlin.

Der Heimkehrer Gabriel Dan erzählt, wie die Revolution das heruntergekommene Hotel Savoy erreicht und zerstört. ... Read more

19. Hotel Savoy
by Joseph Roth
 Paperback: 192 Pages (1988-10-10)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$17.40
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0879513306
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars A whole world in a Hotel
Gabriel Dan comes from war and he stays at Hotel Savoy in an unknown industrial town Eastern Europe -as a matter of fact is Lodz, now in Poland. It's the summer of 1919. The First World War has finished and destroyed many things, and one of them was the Austro-Hungarian Empire, that encompassed lands from Russia to the Mediterranean sea, Slavonic people from the North (Ukraine, Russia) and from the South (Slovenia, Croatia), Hungarians, Germans, Jewish... When Joseph Roth misses that Empire that was destroyed with the war, giving birth to many little National countries, he did not really miss the crown and the Habsburgs but a State in which people from different religions, from different nations and languages could be together. He's not only a wandering Jew, but a wondering citizen and European. And that loss of a common ground is showed in this book. People from many places arrive to that hotel, in which they're located depending on the money they have: the higher floors belong to sad, poor people, that die "among the steam of bleaching"; the lowers ones to rich men that entertain themselves with the beautiful but poor girls of the bar. Prisoners of war, Jewish that come from Russia, displaced citizens, revolutionaries... they all arrive there and there's really no other place to go. They expect the important and rich man from America -called Bloomfield, née Blomenfeld- to arrive and solve all their economical problems. But he comes and goes... and the only solution is the Revolution. Remember, this novel -very entertaining, indeed, but confusing if you don't understand the ethnical and political complexities of Eastern Europe- was written in the 1920s, and the Socialist revolution was the only hope in those days. The sadness, the poverty, the anguish and the displacement that the war created are difficult to bear. And Joseph Roth has a special gift to transmit those feelings, and a great great imagination to create metaphors, so poetic, that even translation improves his lyre. ... Read more

20. Weights and Measures (Peter Owen Modern Classics)
by Joseph Roth
Paperback: 150 Pages (2003-02)
list price: US$23.95 -- used & new: US$23.77
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0720611369
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Our Bisected Lives
Anselm Eibenschütz's life is rudely bisected in the first chapter of "Das Falsche Gewicht".His first life had been spent as an 'honest soldier' in an artillery regiment, rising slowly through the ranks over twelve years to NCO. Then he married, out of loneliness, left the comforting 'regularity' of army life and became two things he'd never prepared himself to be: a civilian and a 'regulator', the inspector of weights and measures in a remote province on the eastern border between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Russia. There, where everyone lives by smuggling and by cheating each other reciprocally in the scales of life, the good soldier Eibenschütz tries to live by his measured sense of his own integrity. It doesn't work out so easily for him, yet in a sense his second life is richer than his first, as he begins to perceive another side of existence - the "out" side: nature, rain, birds or absence of birds, the seasons, love, the sorrows of others ...

Author Joseph Roth was also a man whose life was bisected. He was born in a Jewish village in remote rural Galicia; he left that pre-modern world and moved to Vienna, to cities of Germany, eventually to Paris. Presumably, at times, he felt some astonishment that he, a thoroughly urban and urbane journalist, should have odd dissociated memories of once being a boy in an extinct time-and-place. That feeling of bifurcation shouldn't be mistaken for nostalgia or for any longing to "go home again". Roth, like others whose biographies have been bisected by modernity, knew that that life that could not be relived, that that place no longer existed. Yet he still existed, with a sense of "wonder" at himself, such as one feels when looking at old black-and-white photos. Quite likely I'm projecting, but I'm sure this sense of a 'bisected life' is extremely common in our times. Of all writers in English, Alice Munro has been most evocative and persuasive in her tales of women, like herself, whose mentalities straddle two lives.

The world of Anselm Eibenschütz, then, is the world of Joseph Roth's previous life. It's not truly a 'lost' world; it exists as long as Roth remembers it... or as long as his literary evocations of it are read. Perhaps this was Roth's primary impulse in writing about his haplessly straight soldier in the crooked borderland of Zlotogrod, simply to report and record. But there are complexities in this simple story, written in such elemental narrative language, like a folk tale, like a "conte" from the pen of Theodor Storm or some other 19th C romancer. Is it possibly a parable, without revealing its self-consciousness? Why are 'weights and measures' so central to the story? Why are the characters given such slyly allegorical names? The wife is 'Regina". The violent innkeeper's name - Leibusch - evokes carnality in German. And how about "Anselm Eibenschütz"? Anselm? What a name for a Moravian artilleryman of Jewish heritage. "Eibe" is German for 'yew', the tree traditionally associated with graveyards, the darktree one sees in the most tormented paintings of Vincent van Gogh. "Schütz" comes from the German word for 'shoot', but it's also the word for a watchman or guard. Explicating an allusion is a thankless task, but hey. someone has to do it.

That lawless border village, with flux of deserters from the armies of both empires, has been the setting of earlier novels by Roth. The tavern where the nameless and re-named fugitives huddle briefly is effectively the same tavern, and the scoundrel Kapturak who profits from this human traffic is the same scoundrel. Even the names of minor characters, like Mendel Singer, are recycled from other novellas, though they can't possibly be the identical person. Roth doesn't make any of this obvious, but the reader has to suppose he meant something by it. The usual critical consensus is that Roth was not a careful craftsman in his fiction, with the one great exception of his classic "The Radetzky March". Often it's true; a reader will find that a given book is beautifully written but seemingly sketchy, or that it's magically interesting except for 'chapter X', which is tedious and irrelevant. Often one has to rave about the whole while acknowledging flaws in parts.

That's not the case with "Weights and Measures". This is a tightly structured, concise, deftly crafted piece of writing. There isn't a wasted description or an out-of-tune paragraph. Here's a sample, from early in the narrative when Eibenschütz is first encountering his isolation in Zlotogrod:"Sometimes in the night he sat up in bed and contemplated his wife. In the yellowish gleam of the nightlight, which stood on top of the wardrobe and seemed to intensify the darkness in the room by creating a kind of luminous nocturnal aura, the sleeping Frau Eibenschütz looked to her husband like a dried fruit. He sat up in bed and regarded her closely. The longer he looked, the lonelier he felt. It was as if the mere sight of her made him lonely. She did not belong to him, to Anselm Eibenschütz, as she lay there, with her fine breasts and her childish peaceful face ... Desire no longer urged him towards her as it had in earlier nights." What reader, after this revealing description, will not be expecting one of them, wife or husband, to find desire elsewhere?

5-0 out of 5 stars Others were more famous. His fame will last longer
My headline is a statement by another writer in exile, about Joseph Roth after he had drunk himself to death in Paris in 1939. He had fled Austria after the `Anschluss', the joyful rejoining of Austria with the big brothers.

One of his last works was this short novel. Properly translated its title would be The False Weight. It is a kind of sequel to Radetzky March. We meet some of the same people again, like policeman Franz Slama, though none from the neo-aristocratic Trotta family of the large novel. We also meet Mendel Singer from Roth's Job. The story is set in the Far East of Kakania, in the same district of Galicia, where Russian deserters hang out before they are shipped elsewhere.

Roth's style was very accessible, one might call it artless. He told a story and sometimes commented on it in the process, as a traditional puppet player would. His simple prose has surprising moments of poetry. It is the language of fairy tales. The book even starts like one: once upon a time...
I have been discussing the question whether Roth was nostalgic about the fallen Austrian and Hungarian double monarchy. In the case of the Radetzky March I denied that. Based on False Weight, I may need to reconsider. There is clearly a case of nostalgia for something that failed: the hope for a workable multinational country without nationalisms. Certainly our hero is nostalgic for his army life, and later for his lost lover.

Our hero is a Moravian ex soldier with the beautiful name Anselm Eibenschuetz. An Eibe is a yew tree, and a Schuetz is a shooter. His unloved wife had convinced him to quit military service and take a government position. Now he is far from home and far from his beloved barracks, in charge of controlling weights and measures, friendless, suspect and unpopularly uncorrupt. Empires need corruption like transmission oil. He represents law and order but can't keep it up. Human weaknesses erode his standing and he drifts into a life of dishonesty, unexpected passion, and bottomless drink. (Inside him burned the liquor when he had drunk, and the longing for it, when he had not.)

This edition is the only one that I could find in English, and there has been no previous reviewer. What a shame.

... Read more

  1-20 of 99 | Next 20
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z  

Prices listed on this site are subject to change without notice.
Questions on ordering or shipping? click here for help.

site stats