Synopses & Reviews
Who would have thought that seventy-three years after Joseph Roth's lonely death in Paris, new editions of his translations would be appearing regularly? Roth, a transcendent novelist who also produced some of the most breathtakingly lyrical journalism ever written, is now being discovered by a new generation. Nine years in the making, this life through letters provides us with our most extensive portrait of Roth's calamitous life--his father's madness, his wife's schizophrenia, his parade of mistresses (each more exotic than the next), and his classic westward journey from a virtual Hapsburg shtetl to Vienna, Berlin, Frankfurt, and finally Paris.
Containing 457 newly translated letters, along with eloquent introductions that richly frame Roth's life, this book brilliantly evokes the crumbling specters of the Weimar Republic and 1930s France. Displaying Roth's ceaselessly inventive powers, it finally charts his descent into despair at a time when "the word had died, [and] men bark like dogs."
"Prolific, peripatetic, prickly, and best known in his time as a journalist, Joseph Roth (1894 1939) has since taken his place beside Thomas Mann (whom he loathed), Robert Musil (whom he disliked almost as much), and Alfred DÃ¶blin among the giants of 20th-century German and Austrian literature. English readers will find a tormented, perennial fist-shaker in the more than 450 letters by Roth, from 1911 to 1939 (a few addressed to him), skillfully translated and nimbly edited by Hofmann, and previously only available in a 40-year-old German-language collection. Though at times gossipy, with opinions on everyone from Thomas Mann to Austrian publishers and his own Jewish background, Roth reveals himself detesting Hitlerism early and to such a degree that from the dawn of 1933 he left Germany permanently. To his good friend and fellow writer Stefan Zweig, the recipient of many of the letters, Roth wrote, 'The barbarians have taken over. Do not deceive yourself. Hell reigns.' Roth was also no fan of Soviet communism. Alcohol addiction left Roth (The Radetzky March) in increasing desperation. Perhaps fittingly, Roth died at the edge of the world calamity he had projected." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Hofmann... makes a worthy Virgil through the inferno on display in these pages... Part of the pleasure of reading Joseph Roth--the novels, stories, journalism, letters all--lies in his synthesis of an easily acquired street sapience with a hard-won erudition. He has a 19th-century aesthetic molested by 20th-century crimes, a dignified formalism perverted by an absurdist undertow. Modernity for Roth is a hideous prank played on us by the angel of history." William Giraldi
"Reading is like sitting across a café table from Roth himself... No standard biography of Roth exists in English, but this collection of his letters, superbly translated and judiciously edited by long-time Roth advocate Michael Hofmann, provides a more intimate portrait than any biography could." Commentary Magazine
The monumentality of this biographical work further establishes Joseph Roth--with Kafka, Mann, and Musil--in the twentieth-century literary canon.
About the Author
Joseph Roth (1894-1939) has been admired by J. M. Coetzee, Cathleen Schine, Jeffrey Eugenides, Joseph Brodsky, and Nadine Gordimer, among others. His noted works include The Radetzky March, The Legend of the Holy Drinker, The Leviathan (his final work, published posthumously after Roth's untimely death at the age of 44) and the anthology The Collected Stories of Joseph Roth.For his translations, acclaimed poet Michael Hofmann has won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, the Dublin International IMPAC Award, the PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Prize, the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize, the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize, and The Schlegel-Tieck Prize (four times). He is the highly acclaimed translator of, among others, Kafka, Brecht, and Joseph Roth.For his translations, acclaimed poet Michael Hofmann has won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, the Dublin International IMPAC Award, the PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Prize, the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize, the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize, and The Schlegel-Tieck Prize (four times). He is the highly acclaimed translator of, among others, Kafka, Brecht, and Joseph Roth.