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Joseph Roth: A Life in Letters

3.79  ·  Rating Details  ·  19 Ratings  ·  7 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

Hardcover, 512 pages
Published January 16th 2012 by W. W. Norton & Company
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Apr 29, 2012 Mark rated it really liked it
Lacking an English-language biography of the Austrian writer Joseph Roth, MIchael Hofman's selection and translation of Roth's letters will have to suffice for now. The selection ranges from Roth's first letters to his cousins in 1911 up to shortly before his death (from alcoholism) in 1939. One can gather together some major themes in Roth's letters: his tiresome dealings with publishers and endless wheedling for money; his commentaries on contemporary authors including Thomas Mann, Annette Kol ...more
Dec 13, 2015 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
"This is perhaps the single most striking quality of Roth's letters: their fervor, their temperature....The burn off the page with their indignation, their desperation, their indifference to excuses, their terminal wretchedness, and combusted dignity." (from the introduction by Michael Hofmann)
Cooper Renner
Feb 06, 2014 Cooper Renner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Remarkable collection of letters by the remarkable Austrian novelist. Though he considered himself both Jew and Catholic, Roth's primary sense of identity seems to have been writer and Austrian. In these letters one sees quite deeply into his personality--especially in relation to his colleague Stefan Zweig, who helped support Roth for many years, and to his wife's parents--in a way particularly revelatory since his novels were not in any way "autobiographical" as so many novels by other writers ...more
Feb 17, 2012 Dwight added it
My summary post with links to excerpts from the book

What emerges from these letters is a man constantly on the edge during troubled times. In many ways Roth reflects the turbulence of civilization coming apart at the seams. I’ve included a lot of excerpts from the Roth’s letters (and some to him) in the links below, trying to provide a flavor of his life as he described it. As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, Roth was a very complex, flawed, gifted, and troubled man. Even if he exaggerated some
Emma Richler
Nov 09, 2015 Emma Richler rated it liked it
Less comprehensive a selection of letters and with an introduction and notes by someone other than Hofmann would have perhaps exposed this wonderful and tortured angry writer to a larger audience. For his admirers, much of this is fascinating and much repetitive and depressing.
think ya got it tough? bills due? woman troubles? empire disappeared under your feet? joseph roth's letters (and received letters from his friends [stefan zweig mainly], translators, editors, bosses, lovers) chronicle his wrenching life in exile, poverty, alcoholism, and incredible output of novels, feuilltons, and articles.
a must read for roth fiction fans The Radetzky March
Jan 18, 2012 Geoff marked it as to-read
Michael Hofman is a lovely translator. Joseph Roth is a lovely writer. This could be great!
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Joseph Roth was born and grew up in Brody, a small town near Lemberg in East Galicia, part of the easternmost reaches of what was then Austro-Hungarian empire and is nowadays Ukraine. Roth was born into a Jewish family. He died in Paris, France.
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