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 24, 2013

Hotel Savoy by Joseph Roth 1926

So far I have read and posted on two novels by the great Viennese writer, Joseph Roth, his acknowledged master piece The Radetsky March and a sequal to it, The Emperor's Tomb.  I have added Roth to my read all I can list (meaning translated and in a Kindle edition).  

 Hotel Savoy is set in the years right after WWI  in a large city which sounds like it might be Vienna, Roth's home, but we never learn the name of the city.  I guess it is any town of some size in eastern or Central Europe.  The narrator is returning home from a long walk from a Siberian POW camp.  He is classical educated but he cannot find a job.

The central place and really the center of the novel is the Hotel Savoy.  It is kind of a combination Grand Hotel for the rich of Europe on the first three floors and above that it houses very poor war veterans, displaced persons and the girls who dance naked in the hotel bar where the rich can patronize them and hire them for sex.  There are at least twenty five who stay at the hotel that Roth brilliantly particularizes. One of the things I learned from reading the novels of Roth and Stefan Zweig's memoir, The World of Yesterday was how pervasive prostitution was in between the wars Vienna. You have to see this as a reduction of elemental humanity to commerce and a sign of the degradation of women in the societies. It is saying if you are a poor but passably attractive woman you can either clean the toilets of the rich or be a prostitute.  Visits to prostitutes were also a mark of manhood and of course fun sometimes.  

Every body in the hotel is scrambling to make money through some kind of scam. Hyper-inflation is just starting and there is a lot of currency trading.  The hotel savoy is very international if not cosmopolitan. 

One exciting event happens in the hotel that all the residents were excited over.  The super rich Jewish American industrialist Broomfield comes  to the hotel to stay for a while. Every one wonders why.  Through a lucky break the narrator is hired by Broomfield to screen the people who want to see him and be sort of a personal assistant.  

You can see social unrest building in the city as more ex-soldiers pour into the city, many staying at the Hotel Savoy, more and more citizens are near destitution, and inflation continues.  This is a world where only how much money you have matters.  An apocalyptic event closes the novel.  

This is very much worth reading.  The next Roth work I read will probably be Job. 

I just wanted to put this picture on my blog.  

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 1938 

"Flower Days" by Robert Walser 1907 (no post) 

"Trousers" by Robert Walser -1909 (no post)

Medea By Crista Wolf

Passport by Herta Muller. Romania Nobel Prize winner, German language writer. 

Mrs. Roth 


1 comment:

Jonathan said...

Thanks for the review Mel. This certainly looks like one to read. I've added a lot of his books to my TBR list this year but I've only read 'Holy Drinker' so far. 'Hotel Savoy' may be my next one as I like novels with many characters in a confined space.