Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction and Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel and post Colonial Asian Fiction 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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