Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction and Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel and post Colonial Asian Fiction, Yiddish Literature, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality historical novels are some of my Literary Interests

Monday, December 30, 2013

Fallmerayer the Stationmaster by Joseph Roth 1936

I just began to read Joseph Roth last month.  Discovering his work is one of the biggest things I feel thankful for in 2013, a great reading life year for me.   I wish I had found him decades ago but at least I will not end my reading life never having read his works.  So far I have read and posted on The Zedetzky March, The Emperor's Tomb, Leviathan, The Legend of the Holy Drinker, and a wonderful collection of observations he wrote for newspapers in Berlin.  

This will be the last post I do in 2013 on a literary work, other than month and year end posts.  

Fallmerayer the Stationmaster begins in Austria just before the start of World War One.   Fallmerayer is a very, according to the narrator, unremarkable man.  He works as a railroad station master, his father worked for the railroad also, he is married and is a very conscious employee.   One day something terrible happens that will change his life in ways he would never have thought possible.  Just beyond his station there is a terrible train wreck, with numerous casualties and injuries.  As he rushes to the wreck, his first thought is, "will I be blamed?"   He notices a woman who seems disoriented.  She says she is OK but the doctor says she is in shock and needs a few days rest.  The station master invites her to stay at his house for a few days.   He discovers she is a Russian countess (are there any Russian countesses  that are not trouble ?) and becomes fascinated with her.  In a few days she departs for Russia.   Shortly afterwards, the stationmaster is drafted into the Austrian Army and sent to fight in Russia.  I really don't want to spoil the wonderful plot of this great story.  I will say he reconnects with the countess at her estate in Russia and a completely marvelous if ultimately heartbreaking sequence of events occurs.

This work has a wonderful period feel.   The ending is deeply tragic.  

Please share your experience with Roth with us.

There is a good article by Michael Hoffman, who has so far translated ten works by Roth, here

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