Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Emperor's Tomb by John Roth (1938, 160 pages) His Last Novel


I am really glad I decided to once again participate in 
German Literature Month November 2013.  I thank Caroline and Lizzy for hosting this great reading event.

So far I have read and posted on these works, all but Kafka are new to me writers. 
The Tin Drum-by Gunther Grass
"The Judgement" by Franz Kafka
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque -very powerful war novel 
"A Letter from an Unknown Woman" by Stefan Zweig. 
The Death of the Adversary by Hans Klein - a work of genius
"The Job Application" by Robert Walser 
Chess Game by Stefan Zweig-I will read much more of his work
"The Battle of Sempach" by Robert Walser
I have also listed to podcasts of "Basta" and "Frau Wilkes" by Robert Walser
The March of Radetsky by Joseph Roth I hope to read all his work

Memoirs of an Anti-Semite by Gregor von Rezzori amazing work of art.

"Flypaper" by Robert Musil

"Mendel the Bibliophile" by Stefan Zweig - I totally love this story.

"The Dead are Silent" by Arthur Schnitzler an entertaining work from 1907

"There Will Be Action" by Heinrich Boll a very good short story by Nobel Prize Winner

Transit by Anne Seghars 1942 very much worth reading

The World of Yesterday by Stefan Zweig - an elegy to a lost culture. 1942

Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald. 2001. 

The Emperor's Tomb by Joseph Roth is a sequal to his  The Radetsky March (1932) and should be read only by those who have previously read and enjoyed the first book. I enjoyed them both but I did find The Radetsky March the much better of the two.  The second book is only 160 pages and I do endorse reading both of them in close sequence.  

A. S. Byatt in a very good short article in The Guardian says that this novel is about mothers, wives, and women where the first one was about fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and brothers in arms in the Royal Austrian army and a country dominated by the Emperor Franz Joseph. It is very much about prostitutes and how omni-prescent they were in old Vienna.  There was also a constant fear of disease.  It was a very "macho culture" where dueling scars were a mark of manhood and a distaste for brothels or a concern over illnesses made one suspect in the eyes of your all important fellow officers.   The Emperor's Tomb follows the life of a grand-nephew of a founder of the Nobel Trotta line.

In this novel the central character goes from being a young dandy in Vienna ( a great place to be a well healed young man about town) to being inducted into the military and winding up in Siberia.  In a scene you knew it broke Roth's heart to write, he talks about the day Austria voted to be unified with Germany and the growing proliferation of Nazis Swastikas in his beloved home town.

Ok, not the master work that The Radetsky March is but still it has great scenes, and weak ones, but I am still very glad I read it.  I will next read by Roth The Savoy Hotel, kind of a Grand Hotel type of work.

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