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