Jospeh Roth, one of the greats of Austrian literature, seemed like a wonderful choice, not only for the Literature and War Readalong in which we focus on WWI, but also as part of German Literature Month. And because he’s such a fine author, there will not only be a readalong but the last week of GLM ( 24 – 30 November) is dedicated to his work. After some rather unfortunate readalong choices, I’m confident this one will not disappoint.
Joseph Roth was an Austrian-Jewish writer and journalist. He died at the age of forty-seven in Paris. His early death was probably brought on by his alcoholism. His last book, called The Legend of the Holy Drinker, is inspired by his own battle with alcohol.
Some of his books deal with the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (The Radetzky March, The Emperor’s Tomb), others like Job focus on Judaism. Although he was Jewish, Catholicism was important for Roth and it’s assumed that he converted towards the end of his life.
Here are the first sentences of Flight Without End
Franz Tunda, first lieutenant in the Austrian Army, became a Russian prisoner of war in August 1916. He was taken to a camp a few versts north-east of Irkutsk. He succeeded in escaping with the help of a Siberian Pole. On the remote, isolated and dreary farm of this Pole, the officer remained until spring 1919.
And some details and the blurb for those who want to join
Flight Without End, written in Paris, in 1927, is perhaps the most personal of Joseph Roth’s novels. Introduced by the author as the true account of his friend Franz Tunda it tells the story of a young ex-office of the Austro-Hungarian Army in the 1914- 1918 war, who makes his way back from captivity in Siberia and service with the Bolshevik army, only to find out that the old order, which has shaped him has crumbled and that there is no place for him in the new “European” culture that has taken its place. Everywhere – in his dealings with society, family, women – he finds himself an outsider, both attracted and repelled by the values of the old world, yet unable to accept the new ideologies.
The discussion starts on Friday, 28 November 2014.
Further information on the Literature and War Readalong 2014, including all the book blurbs, can be found here.