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Joseph Roth (1894–1939)

Author of The Radetzky March

227+ Works 10,964 Members 284 Reviews 60 Favorited

About the Author

Author and journalist Joseph Roth was born on September 2, 1894. During World War I, he served in the Austro-Hungarian army from 1916 to 1918. Afterwards, he worked as a journalist in Vienna and in Berlin. His best-known works are The Radetzky March and Job. He died in Paris on May 27, 1939 and is show more buried in Thiais Cemetery. (Bowker Author Biography) Joseph Roth is the author of such classics as The Radetzky March and The Emperor's Tomb. He died in Paris in 1939. (Publisher Provided) show less
Image credit: Joseph Roth, 1918

Works by Joseph Roth

The Radetzky March (1932) — Author — 2,813 copies
Job: The Story of a Simple Man (1930) — Author — 890 copies
The Emperor's Tomb (2001) 854 copies
The Legend of the Holy Drinker (1939) — Author — 726 copies
Hotel Savoy (1924) — Author — 406 copies
The Tale of the 1002nd Night (1939) 377 copies
The Wandering Jews (1927) 342 copies
Flight Without End (1927) 337 copies
Confession of a Murderer (1936) 320 copies
Rebellion: A Novel (1924) 258 copies
Weights and Measures (1937) — Author — 227 copies
Tarabas: A Guest on Earth (1934) 199 copies
The Spider's Web (1923) 196 copies
Right and Left (1929) — Author — 164 copies
The Silent Prophet (1929) 127 copies
The Hundred Days (1936) 119 copies
Zipper and His Father (1928) 108 copies
The Leviathan (1945) 91 copies
Viaggio in Russia (1995) 70 copies
The Antichrist (2002) 45 copies
Die Erzählungen (1981) 41 copies
Le città bianche (1925) 33 copies
Il mercante di coralli (1981) 32 copies
On the End of the World (2013) 29 copies
Kaffeehaus-Frühling (2001) 28 copies
El triunfo de la belleza (2004) — Author — 26 copies
Aardbeien (2010) — Author — 21 copies
Romane (German Edition) (1982) 20 copies
Abril. Historia de un amor (1925) 19 copies
El espejo ciego (1925) 19 copies
Panoptikum (1983) 18 copies
Der Leviathan: Erzählungen (1978) 15 copies
Romane und Erzählungen (2010) 14 copies
Romanzi brevi (1923) 14 copies
Orte. Ausgewählte Texte. (1990) 12 copies
La quarta Italia (1995) 7 copies
Die Kapuzinergruft : Romane aus der Exilzeit (1990) — Author — 6 copies
Croquis de voyage (1994) 6 copies
Der Vorzugsschüler (1916) 6 copies
Cartas (1911-1939) (2009) 5 copies
Automne à Berlin (2000) 5 copies
Die großen Erzählungen (2014) 4 copies
The Legend of the Holy Drinker / The Leviathan (2003) — Author — 4 copies
Històries d'exili (2020) 4 copies
Pariser Nächte (2018) 3 copies
Radetzkymarsch/Die Kapuzinergruft (1972) — Author — 3 copies
Le miroir aveugle (2023) 2 copies
De cine : (1919-1931) (2018) 2 copies
Proza podrozna (2018) 2 copies
Symptômes viennois (2004) 2 copies
Meistererzählungen. (1970) 2 copies
Opere (1987) 2 copies
Die besten Geschichten (2020) 2 copies
Tarabás (2015) 1 copy
Ο Λεβιάθαν (2012) 1 copy
Abril y otros cuentos (2010) 1 copy
Podróż do Rosji (2019) 1 copy
La toile d'araignée (1970) 1 copy
Joseph Roth (2020) 1 copy
Various 1 copy
Le Parapluie 1 copy
Albania 1 copy
Krypta Kapucynow (2015) 1 copy
Imparator Mezarligi (2019) 1 copy
Pesos y medidas (2013) 1 copy
Le genre féminin (2006) 1 copy
any 1 copy
Barbara (2012) 1 copy
Toplu Hikayeler (2019) 1 copy
Sonsuz Kacis (2017) 1 copy
Lažna mera 1 copy
Pobuna 1 copy
Roth Joseph 1 copy
Listy z Polski (2018) 1 copy

Associated Works

Salt of the Earth (1935) — Preface, some editions — 91 copies
Granta 129: Fate (2014) — Contributor — 56 copies
Zomeravond — Author, some editions — 23 copies
Voor het einde 33 Duitse verhalen uit de jaren 1900-1933 (1977) — Contributor — 14 copies
Deutsche Erzählungen 2 (1975) — Contributor — 10 copies
"London Magazine", 1961-85: An Anthology (1986) — Contributor — 10 copies
Meesters der Duitse vertelkunst (1967) — Author — 9 copies
Kokaín: Eine Moderne Revue: Issue 1 (1925) — Contributor — 1 copy


Common Knowledge

Canonical name
Roth, Joseph
Legal name
Roth, Moses Joseph (birth name)
Date of death
Burial location
Thiais cemetery, Paris, France
Austro-Hungarian Empire (Austrian)
Country (for map)
Brody, Galicia, Austria-Hungary
Place of death
Paris, France
Places of residence
Brody, Galicia, Ukraine
Berlin, Germany
Thiais, Paris, France
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Lviv University
University of Vienna
features correspondent
short story writer
Keun, Irmgard (lover)
Zweig, Stefan (friend)
Morgenstern, Soma (friend)
Imperial Habsburg army (WWI)
Frankfurter Zeitung
Short biography
Joseph Roth was born into a Jewish family in the Austrian-Hungarian Empire and served in the Imperial army in World War I. After the war, he became a journalist and travelled widely, including making numerous trips to Russia. During this period, he wrote several novels, novellas, and volumes of short stories. He became a star correspondent for the Frankfurter Zeitung, and in 1932 published his masterpiece, The Radetzky March. As a Jew, a leftist, and an outspoken critic of Nazism, he knew he had to flee Germany on January 30, 1933, the day the Nazis took power -- never to return. Thereafter, he lived hand-to-mouth working as a journalist alternately in Amsterdam and Paris. He died in the latter city in alcoholism and poverty in 1939.



132. Job by Joseph Roth in Backlisted Book Club (March 2022)
Group Read, June 2014: The Radetsky March in 1001 Books to read before you die (July 2014)


The Radetzky March takes its title from the musical composition authored by Johann Strauss, father of the "waltz king", Strauss, junior. It is a classic military march, that you can hear, and view conducted by Andre Rieu on YouTube. Joseph Radetzky von Radetz was an Austrian marshal of Bohemian descent who fought in the Napoleonic Wars and let the Austrian army during the first war for Italian independence in 1848-49. He died in 1858, roughly a decade before the story that Roth unfolds in the Battle of Solferino in 1869, a failed campaign against the Italians that could be said to be the second major milestone in the decline of the Dual Monarchy led by Kaiser Franz Jospeh I following its defeat by Prussia in 1866 which foreclosed the possibility of German reunification occurring under the leadership of Austria.

Decline is the theme of The Radetzky March. Although, in our times it could be said with more than a little truth that decline is a choice, in Roth's account, the decline of the empire is the result of the movement of historical processes, chiefly the rise of nationalism and the gradual breaking apart of the spiritual bonds that held together the monarchy and the empire. This decline is paralleled by the story of the quick rise and decline of the fortunes of the Trotta family. At the Battle of Solferino in 1869 the youthful Kaiser is saved from a bullet and possible death on the battlefield by a Lt. Joseph Trotta, an officer of Slovenian peasant stock. Trotta is promoted to a captaincy and is, in effect, the recipient of a battlefield promotion to the nobility, henceforth to be known as Joseph Trotta von Sipolje, Baron Trotta.

The Hero of Solferino passes from the scene early on in the story. What he leaves beside his title is a portrait painted by a friend of his son. The portrait, even more so than the march, dominates the persons of his son, a "district captain" which is basically a minor government functionary position, and the grandson, Carl Jospeh Trotta, who is groomed from early in his life for a military career for which he is unsuited. Carl Jospeh is commissioned into the cavalry despite his mediocre horsemanship. Following a fatal confrontation between his only friend in his regiment, the Jewish regimental surgeon and another officer from the nobility for which Trotta was the inadvertent cause, he transfers to a rifle regiment in a remote outpost on the Eastern frontier. Here he falls into patterns of dissolution from the usual causes, drinking, gambling and women. Eventually his debts are called in and he is forced to petition his father, the district commissioner to bail him out of his predicament. The father, unable to borrow the needed funds from any other source petitions the emperor directly. Franz Joseph, vaguely remembering the service to him by the grandfather of our scapegrace, directs that the debts be discharged, and for good measure that the holder of the debt be deported.

At a regimental celebration in the summer of 1914, the rumor of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, is circulated among the officers. Trotta sends in his resignation, but the resulting war brings him back into uniform and he meets his fate at the hands of Russian snipers while trying to retrieve water for his parched troops. The novel concludes with the parallel deaths of the Kaiser and the district commissioner in 1916.

The Radetzky March is a beautifully written, albeit melancholy metaphor for decline - of the empire, the monarchy, the Trotta family. The empire and the Trottas adhere more or less faithfully to the time-honored forms, but the protagonists become gradually aware that the substance underlying the forms have become hollowed out and that the forms are on the verge of extinction. Roth is at his best in his sketches and development of his characters. This excerpt from early in the novel provides a portrait of Carl Jospeh's father Franz, the district commissioner.

"He spoke the nasal Austrian German of higher officials and lesser nobles. It vaguely recalled distant guitars twanging in the night and also the last dainty vibrations of fading bells; it was a soft but also precise language, tender and spiteful at once. It suited the speaker's thin, bony face, his curved, narrow nose, in which the sonorous, somewhat rueful consonants seemed to be lying. His nose and mouth, when the district captain spoke, were more like wind instruments than facial features. Aside from the lips, nothing moved in his face. The dark whiskers that Herr von Trotta wore as part of his uniform, as insignia demonstrating his fealty to Franz Jospeh I, as proof of his dynastic conviction--these whiskers likewise remained immobile when Herr von Trotta und Sipolje spoke. He sat upright at the table, as if clutching reins in his hard hands. When sitting he appeared to be standing, and when rising he always surprised others with his full ramrod height. He always worse dark blue, summer and winter, Sundays and weekdays: a dark-blue jacket with gray striped trousers that lay snug on his long legs and were tautened by straps over the smooth boots. Between the second and third course he would usually get up in order to 'stretch my legs'. But it seemed more as is he wanted to show the rest of the household how to rise, stand, and walk without relinquishing immobility."

The Radetzky March is a masterpiece and a sober meditation on the problem of decline, a problem that confronts his contemporary readers as it confronted the characters of this outstanding work.
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citizencane | 72 other reviews | Nov 14, 2023 |
One of my favorite authors. It’s been quite a while since I revisited Roth and I am embarrassed that this one took so long. Like so much of his work, a masterpiece of nostalgia for the hinterlands of the Hapsburg empire. A wonderful writer with a knack for the telling detail and for evoking a lost world. The story line is engaging and involved (if you’ve read Roth before, you’re likely familiar with the Trotta family) but, to my mind, as good as it is, the story takes second-place to Roth’s superb evocation of time and place and the decay of the empire. It was the last novel of his published in his lifetime and it ends, pregnantly, with the arrival of the Nazis in Vienna.… (more)
Gypsy_Boy | 19 other reviews | Aug 25, 2023 |
No one writes nothing but masterpieces and this illustrates that point all too well. The story, to the extent there is one, is the life of Franz Tunda, soldier in the Austrian army. He is sent to Russia, is captured, escapes, lives for some years in Siberia until he belatedly learned the war has ended. He sets out to return to his wife, is captured by Bolsheviks, joins their cause, leaves, marries a Russian woman, leaves, gets back to Austria, finds his wife has remarried, goes to Paris to find her…. Does he love his wife and want to be reunited? Not really. Tunda doesn’t feel at home anywhere and he doesn't love anyone. He doesn’t feel at home in Austria or Russia or Germany or France. So he is constantly in flight in search of something he will never find. His life has never focused on the present because he has always been unsatisfied, living for an unknown (and maybe unknowable) something. Re-reading this, I must admit that the premise sounds better to me than the execution—and that’s the disappointment of the book. In fairness to Roth, his writing is--as always--excellent. It just never clicked for me and I can’t recommend it. (I don’t know enough about Roth’s own life to say for certain but from what I do know, his illustration of the enormous changes in the world wrought by World War One may reflect his own sense of loss, of failing to belong anywhere since the world he knew was irretrievably gone.)… (more)
Gypsy_Boy | 12 other reviews | Aug 23, 2023 |
I was born in 1952. Josef Stalin was in charge in the Soviet Union but since he died in 1953, I have no memory of him. My point, however, is that I grew up/came of age during the 1960s and early 1970s when the USSR and the USA waged a Cold War and most of Eastern Europe was under Soviet sway. Move ahead several decades and in the 1990s I spent time in many of those countries—Austria and Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Romania, and in 2000 I spent three weeks in Russia and Belarus. Plus my family is Lithuanian on one side and Belarussian on the other. Also beginning in the late 1990s, I taught graduate-level courses at a law school in Chicago, including one entitled “Eastern European Business and Investment Law.” The students who took that class tended to be American lawyers who wanted (or whose clients wanted) to do business in that part of the world.
Experience taught me that most of my students knew little about that part of the world and virtually nothing about its history. So my first few lectures always discussed the history and the history of the law of that region. It was, in some ways, the most enjoyable part of the course because my background and degrees are in history and I find the history of Eastern/Central Europe to be fascinating. But, as many times as I taught the course, I never felt that I could adequately convey the enormous diversity of that part of the world or just how much it meant when worlds changed following wars. Had I read the stories in this book a few decades ago, I would have assigned them as required reading for Roth’s ability to portray precisely that diversity and the meaning of change, both on an individual and a universal level.
Move ahead a few more decades and I have just finished reading these three novellas. Roth is famous as a chronicler of the decline of the Austro-Hungarian empire/monarchy. He was born in 1894 in what was then Galicia and is now Ukraine, studied philosophy and German literature in Vienna, volunteered to serve in World War One (on the Eastern Front) and witnessed first-hand the collapse of the Hapsburg Empire when he was only 24 years old. It changed his life, most of which he spent as a journalist (and novelist) before dying at the age of 44 of pneumonia. For anyone who doesn’t know much about him, I’d encourage you to read either Wikipedia or this perceptive review. (Though a bit dated, there is also an unsigned profile of him in the New Yorker magazine.) He was a fascinating man and a writer capable of brilliance.
I have read maybe half a dozen of his books, including what is usually said to be his best work, The Radetzky March. Truth be told, the book I just finished strikes me as the best of what I’ve read so far. Good as Radetzky is, I think Hotel Savoy and Bust of the Emperor are even more…intense, pithier. My book includes two unsurpassed portraits of a time and place and one curious piece that I cannot make heads nor tails of (an American idiom meaning that I cannot understand it). Hotel Savoy is the story the immediate aftermath of World War One told through the person of Gabriel Dan, a former Russian prisoner of war. Ex-soldiers and other former prisoners of war return westward in waves, stopping for a day or a lifetime in the “frontier” city of Łódź on their way (or not) to resume their lives and rejoin their families. Dan is staying at the Hotel Savoy, both a permanent and a temporary home to the wealthy and the destitute. Dan recounts all he sees, both in the streets and in the hotel, a microcosmic ship of fools. (For serious movie fans, think, perhaps, of an impossible hybrid of the 1932 “Grand Hotel” with Murnau’s 1924 “Last Laugh.”) Roth’s bleak pointillist depiction of the world reads the world brilliantly, illustrating it through a colorful cast of characters, including a wise and caring donkey. But in the last five or six pages, Roth’s tone shifts dramatically and becomes almost pure journalism—the description turning oracular; the Book of Revelation through the eyes of Joseph Roth. It is an absolute tour de force.
The next story, Fallmerayer the Stationmaster, tells us the story of Fallmerayer, a minor functionary whose life is changed one night when he rescues a Russian woman from a train accident. That simple act upends his life: he falls in love with her, enlists in the army, is sent to Russia, and abandons his family to start a new life with the Countess. I thought the story mildly interesting and the end incomprehensible. I’d be very curious to hear others’ reaction to it.
I think that the last story, The Bust of the Emperor (available here in English for free) is a stunning portrait of the collapse of the Hapsburg Empire. Roth takes his epigram from the Austrian playwright, Franz Grillparzer: “From humanity via nationality to bestiality.” The quotation is not just apt, it is perfect. The plot is simple: Count Franz Xaver Morstin is a local nobleman in the small town of Lopatyny in what is—and is not—Poland, comes to grips with the disappearance of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Roth shows how and why it is not only the death of the empire but the end of a way of life, a world order, and an age. The story is heart-rendingly sensitive, capitalizing on Roth’s sharp and nuanced understanding of the world from the position of the poorest and most deprived. Page after page he shows how the growth of nationalism in the carcass of the empire portended ill for the people and the world.
I’ll let a gentleman who posts on Goodreads under the name “Pastor Ben” have the final word because he managed to say what I’m trying to in far fewer words: “I adored the middle novella, The Bust of the Emperor. I give it seven stars out of five…. It touched a nerve for me and I'm not being rational in the slightest. But don't stories do that sometimes?”
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Gypsy_Boy | Aug 23, 2023 |



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Associated Authors

Koos van Weringh Editor, Afterword
Friedemann Berger Editor, Afterword
Charles Kent Translator
Geir Pollen Translator
Huib van Krimpen Translator
Beatrice Donin Translator
Michael Hofmann Translator, Afterword
Peter Dyer Cover designer
Terreni Laura Translator
Wilfred Oranje Translator
Georg Salter Cover designer
Luciano Foà Translator
John Hoare Translator
Elly Schippers Editor, Translator
Aarno Peromies Translator
Johan Winkler Translator
Giorgio Manacorda Introduction
Eva Tucker Translator
Geoffrey Dunlop Translator
W. Wielek-Berg Translator
Sara Cortesia Translator
Karl Brodersen Translator
Kent Charles Translator
Peter Matic Narrator
David Le Vay Translator
Richard Panchyk Translator, Afterword, Introduction
Els Snick Afterword, Translator
Dorothy Thompson Translator
Fré Cohen Cover designer
Ross Benjamin Translator
Bert Bouman Illustrator
Nini Brunt Translator
Pablo Auladell Illustrator
Jonathan Katz Translator
Kurt Löb Illustrator
Wil Boesten Translator
Jan Verstraete Translator
Ugo Gimmelli Translator
Elie Wiesel Preface
Paul van der Steen Illustrator
Geert Mak Preface
Arnon Grunberg Introduction
M. G. Manucci Translator
Griffini Barbara Translator
Desmond I. Vesey Translator
Klaus Westermann Afterword, Composer
Renata Colorni Translator
Winifred Katzin Translator
Nico Rost Translator
Franziska Neubert Illustrator
Peter W. Jansen Afterword
Hermann Kesten Afterword, Editor
Carmen Gauger Translator
Miguel Sáenz Translator
Rainer J Siegel Herausgeber
Nick Pearson Cover designer
André Heller Afterword
Carl Rabus Illustrator


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