Austrian literature: Joseph Roth, Radetzkymarsch

Joseph Roth (1894 – 1939)

Joseph Roth was an acute chronicler of the downfall of the Habsburg empire and the reverberations for the Austrian people. He worked traumatic experiences of World War I into his prose, experiences which where shared by many of his generetion. Also a journalist with an interest in social issues Joseph Roth’s writing met with success mostly because of the somewhat glorified depiction of imperial Habsburg. By this he contributed to establishing the Habsburg myth.

Although glorifying might well be too harsh a word. Especially in his novels ‘Radetzky Marsch‘ and ensuing ‘Die Kapuzinergruft’ he depicts the melancholy of a people suddenly reduced to comparable insignificance combined with severe economic troubles. Three generations of a family called Trotta hold the readers attention in their strive for fortune and fame and their eventual doom when the empire crumbled.

Hotel Savoy‘ introduces the hotel as a transitory place for people in misfortune, a setting that would gain in importance in the literature to follow.

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