Joseph Roth's March into History

October 2008
236 pages
9x6 in
Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture
ISBN: 9781571133892
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Camden House
BISAC LIT004170, HIS054000, HIS014000

Joseph Roth's March into History

From the Early Novels to Radetzkymarsch and Die Kapuzinergruft

Kati Tonkin

A strikingly new view of the novelistic career of the famously enigmatic interwar writer.
Joseph Roth was one of the most significant German-language writers of the interwar period, yet few major studies of his work have been published in English. Kati Tonkin's monograph spans Roth's novelistic career, challenging the widely held assumption that his writing can be divided into an early "socialist" and a later "monarchist" phase: that his late novels Radetzkymarsch and Die Kapuzinergruft are deeply nostalgic, presenting an idealized picture of the Habsburg Empire, a "backward-turned utopia." In contrast, Tonkin reads the later works not as escapist but as attempts to grasp the reasons for the failure of the empire. The historical context in which Roth operated -- that of the late empire and its successor states -- has been a focus of renewed interest since the end of the Cold War, as Central Europe re-emerges as a region with a distinct historical and cultural identity steeped in multinational Habsburg traditions, and Central European nations accede to the European Union. This book will therefore be of interest to students and scholars of early-20th-century Central European literature, history, and culture; of the socio-cultural environment of the late Habsburg Empire; of Jewish identity in German-speaking Central Europe; and of national identity in the multinational context.

Kati Tonkin is Lecturer in German and European Studies at the University of Western Australia.

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Table of Contents

Identity and Ideology
The Early Novels: Das Spinnennetz, Hotel Savoy, Die Rebellion
Radetzkymarsch as Historical Novel
Die Kapuzinergruft and the Confrontation with History
Selected Works by Joseph Roth
Works Cited


A welcome addition to the secondary literature on Roth. GERMAN STUDIES REVIEW

The synthesis that Tonkin offers in her elegant prose and copious documentation should open up a new generation of scholarship on Roth. AUSTRIAN HISTORY YEARBOOK

A lucid and convincing study.. By stressing the essential wholeness of his oeuvre, Tonkin does a signal service to Roth scholarship in a book which never outstays its welcome. MODERN LANGUAGE REVIEW

This brilliant and scholarly examination of Roth's novels is an attempt to square the circle of Roth studies: to reconcile the radical socialist of the 20s with the "alcoholic monarchist with a decreasing grip on reality" of the 30s. An important contribution to our understanding of this remarkable author, which no future study of him will be able to ignore. Students of Roth, and of European literature in general, will find it invaluable and illuminating. WATERSTONES.COM BOOKSELLER REVIEW

[E]xcels in presenting the complex social, cultural, and political problems surrounding the historical themes addressed in Roth's work. MAL

A splendid and reader-friendly study . . . that can also serve as (and this is a notorious desideratum) an up-to-date English-language introduction to Roth's works. GERMAN QUARTERLY

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