Editor: Univ of South Carolina Press
Size: 349 kb
Format File: Pdf
Understanding Joseph Roth by , Book Summary:A writer described as a "Jew in search of a fatherland" and a "wanderer in flight toward a tragic end," the Austrian writer Joseph Roth (1894–1939) spent his life in pursuit of a national and cultural identity and his final years writing in fervent opposition to the Third Reich. In this introduction to Roth's novels, which include Job and The Radetzky March, Sidney Rosenfeld demonstrates how the experience of homelessness not only shaped Roth's life but also decisively defined his body of work. Rosenfeld suggests that more than any other component of Roth's varied fiction, his skillful portrayals of uprootedness and the search for home explain his international appeal, which has grown in recent decades with the translation of his works into English. Rosenfeld examines Roth's obsession with the question of belonging, tracing it to his boyhood in the Slavic-Jewish Austrian Crown land of Galicia. Illustrating how Roth's quest determined his most typical themes and gave rise to the Jewish-Slavic melancholy that permeates his narratives, Rosenfeld includes readings of the early novels. Through this fiction Roth quickly established his reputation as a literary chronicler of both the final years of the Habsburg monarchy and the lost world of East European Jewry. Rosenfeld describes Roth's flight from Berlin upon Hitler's ascent to power in January 1933, and his precarious existence as an exile. While copies of Roth's works went up in flames in Nazi book burnings, the novelist moved from one European city to another, living in hotels and writing at café tables. From the time of his exile until his death in Paris just months before the outbreak of the Second World War, Roth produced six novels, as well as shorter works of fiction and a steady flow of journalism denouncing the Third Reich. Rosenfeld's critical readings of the novels written during Roth's exile connect them with the novelist's prescient estimate of Hitler's intentions and his own longing for a sovereign Austria.
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