Joseph Roth by Joseph Roth
A Life in Letters

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Roth emerges in the letters as the tragic hero that he refused in his fiction.
-Guardian

Synopsis

The monumentality of this biographical work further establishes Joseph Roth—with Kafka, Mann, and Musil—in the twentieth-century literary canon.


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.”

 

About Joseph Roth

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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.
 
Published January 16, 2012 by W. W. Norton & Company. 585 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Joseph Roth
All: 4 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 0

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Larry Rohter on Mar 04 2012

One of the many merits of “Joseph Roth: A Life in Letters” is that it helps fill in some of the blanks in the troubled and abbreviated life led by Roth...

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Amelia Atlas on Feb 24 2012

What’s especially striking about his correspondence...is how little of the writing life makes its way into the written life.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Lara Feigel on Feb 24 2012

Roth emerges in the letters as the tragic hero that he refused in his fiction.

Read Full Review of Joseph Roth: A Life in Letters | See more reviews from Guardian

WSJ online

Good
Reviewed by Tess Lewis on Jan 21 2012

What these letters reveal, more clearly than any biography could, is Roth's heroism in not only refusing to put down his pen despite unbearable conditions but wielding it so skillfully until the end.

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