Saturday, January 21, 2012

Review of Joseph Roth's Letters in the Wall Street Journal


This weekend's Wall Street Journal features a review of a new English translation of a selection of Joseph Roth's letters. The review does a good job of conveying how tenuous Roth's hold on life and reality sometimes was. For example, the review mentions that Roth asked for money from Stefan Zweig for several years in the 1930's but would then berate him for interfering in his writing. But unfortunately (from my point of view), it concentrates on the purely political aspect of Roth's writing. While there is no doubt that politics meant a great deal to Roth, and that much of his oeuvre is concerned with politics in one way or another, the elegiac quality of his greatest works points to something more important than politics.

Anyone whose interest is piqued by the review may want to read three earlier posts about Roth (parts 1, 2, and 3). Maybe someday I'll finally get around to writing something about The Radetzky March as I've been planning for some time.
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