knig's Reviews > The Radetzky March

The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth
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Jul 03, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: 2012
Read from July 02 to 03, 2012

Well. What can I say? If the world were split into meat and two veg on the one hand, and love pudding on the other, you’d need to be of the former, dangling garden variety to appreciate the Radetzky March, fully: with a Virginia sticking out of your mouth, perhaps.

Barracks, guns, uniforms, wars, duels of honour, brothels, male on male love- ins (true friendship, people, only that!), absence of any female characters (unless they are the wives of Colonels looking for a little diversion during the long afternoons whilst their husbands are practicing drills), and army life exposes, coupled with the main protag’s disillusionment with the ‘war establishment’ makes this the perfect , and topical Christmas gift for a loved man in your life. (Enough with the socks and shirts already) And I’m not even being sarcastic.

Its a perfectly decent book: for a man. Doesn’t even have to be a manly man, just as long as hes got his meat and veg he’ll do – any man. In fact, all the laudatory blurbs on the inside cover of my edition (written by, ahem, men), call it a masterpiece of 20 c literature. So there you go, a masterpiece, and a perfect present all rolled into one: what more could you want? But, will your man like it? Absolutely! Just look at these testimonials of satisfied users:

http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...

http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...

http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...

I personally ordered ten copies tonight. Don’t leave it too late people, you know how xmas has a way of just creeping up.
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07/11/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-23 of 23) (23 new)

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Richard Derus There is indeed a complete absence of gynergy in the book. Complete.

I found that soothing...but then again, I would, wouldn't I?


message 2: by Szplug (last edited Jul 03, 2012 01:40PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Szplug I personally ordered ten copies tonight. Don’t leave it too late people, you know how xmas has a way of just creeping up.

And that, folks, is the motherloving piece de resistance.


knig Richard wrote: "There is indeed a complete absence of gynergy in the book. Complete.

I found that soothing...but then again, I would, wouldn't I?"


OK you would, but still, if there was no gynergy its because it was all...um, andergy? I mean, I didn't see Atila the Hun there...


knig Chris wrote: "I personally ordered ten copies tonight. Don’t leave it too late people, you know how xmas has a way of just creeping up.

And that, folks, is the motherloving piece de resistance."


Can you not bring to everyone's attention that I only, just, have ten lovers, please. I have a reputation to maintain here.


Richard Derus Andergy. HHmmm. I think it's because the story told simply doesn't allow room for women. They just don't matter to the men in the story. Not because they're too busy fightin' and fussin' and feudin' but because they hold no interest for the men. The women are there to have babies and submit to sex.

It's not so much exclusion as complete want of interest. A woman spoke? Really? Are you sure it wasn't the sofa?

Ahhh...les jadis...

Srsly it does jar on modern women, I feel sure, for its sheer power to freeze. It was so much a part of Roth's acculturation that no male would ever bother to notice it, I think.


message 6: by Szplug (last edited Jul 03, 2012 03:03PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Szplug I have a reputation to maintain here.

Well, only ten male lovers, Knig (and assuming, of course, that it wasn't a matter of you simply running out of funds). I should imagine the ladies you entertain couldn't be counted with the digits available to a single individual.

'Course, then we've got to consider the automata...


Jeffrey Keeten Does a book have to have a strong female character to be a masterpiece?

I don't dispute that Jane Austen is important to literature, but I don't remember thinking to myself while reading the whole canon for a survey class in college that "man this would be so much better if there were more strong male characters in the plot for me to identify with".

Since the book is almost exclusively about the Austrian military and given the role that women had in the lives of men from this period of Austrian history I guess I didn't find it odd that Roth didn't manufacture a fantabulous woman to stick into the plot.

This is the great thing about literature, all great literature isn't for everyone. I despise Don Quixote and have tried many times to find a way to make that book palatable for me. Yet I have to acknowledge that others find it to be a masterpiece. Although I have not read far enough to find a strong female lead in the book and maybe that is why I found it so distasteful. haha


message 8: by B0nnie (new) - added it

B0nnie Jeffrey wrote: "I don't dispute that Jane Austen is important to literature, but I don't remember thinking to myself while reading the whole canon for a survey class in college that "man this would be so much better if there were more strong male characters in the plot for me to identify with". ."

whaa..? not sure what you're saying Jeffrey, but there are a lot of strong male characters in Jane Austen.


message 9: by Mike (new) - added it

Mike Puma Jeffrey wrote: "Does a book have to have a strong female character to be a masterpiece?"

Well, of course, Jeffrey, like Moby-Dick, and Robinson Crusoe, or leaping years ahead, Blood Meridian or The Road.


Jeffrey Keeten B0nnie wrote: "Jeffrey wrote: "I don't dispute that Jane Austen is important to literature, but I don't remember thinking to myself while reading the whole canon for a survey class in college that "man this would..."

I guess the emphasis is on "for me to identify with" and I'm not attacking Austen. I like Austen. I'm just saying that a masterpiece does not need a strong female and a strong male character to be considered a masterpiece IMHO.


message 11: by B0nnie (new) - added it

B0nnie Jeffrey wrote: "B0nnie wrote: "Jeffrey wrote: "I don't dispute that Jane Austen is important to literature, but I don't remember thinking to myself while reading the whole canon for a survey class in college that ..."

well you have some Henry Tilney in you for sure! a masterpiece doesn't even need humans - rabbits will do.


Jeffrey Keeten Mike wrote: "Jeffrey wrote: "Does a book have to have a strong female character to be a masterpiece?"

Well, of course, Jeffrey, like Moby-Dick, and Robinson Crusoe, or leaping years ahead, Blood Meridian or Th..."


Exactly Mike and some of my favorite books...OMG I must be... male. Shame on Defoe for not sticking a woman on that island, but then she would have been subjugated. Why didn't Melville have a female stowaway on the Pequod? He missed his chance to be considered a great American classic.


Jeffrey Keeten B0nnie wrote: "Jeffrey wrote: "B0nnie wrote: "Jeffrey wrote: "I don't dispute that Jane Austen is important to literature, but I don't remember thinking to myself while reading the whole canon for a survey class ..."

Well thank you Bonnie I will have to reread Northanger Abbey and see if I have to retract every statement I've made on this feed. haha


message 14: by B0nnie (new) - added it

B0nnie Henry Tilney is laid-back, droll, decent, likes to read. Probably no good at fighting zombies though.


message 15: by Mike (new) - added it

Mike Puma I loved Northanger Abbey--in the most masculine sorta way I could muster, of course, I read it for a class. Still.


message 16: by knig (new) - rated it 2 stars

knig I know I’m being controversial, but its a topic that probably needs to be aired, even if I get flamed for it. By both men, and women.

No, a novel does not need to have strong female (or conversely) male characters to make it a masterpiece. But not every masterpiece is for everyone. Some novels simply have a gender bias. Generally, a lengthy expose on military history will garner a host of ecstatic male readers whilst leaving most women cold. I’ve just had a look at the GR reviews of this book: it is mostly reviewed by enthusiastic men, and a smaller number of dubious women. This is what the women say (just from the first page of the thread)

This was on the 1000 books list. I wish I knew why

At times it was a bit dense to trudge through, what with all of the military terminology, but once it started talking about the history of the Trotta family and their connections to the future of the dying Austrian Empire, I found it really interesting

I had a difficult time getting into this book. The Austro-Hungarian army life has never been a particular interest of mine.

What do I think about this? Well, I certainly don’t think women are too silly to appreciate the finer points of military history. But ultimately, it comes down to a point of interest. And its perfectly OK for men and women to have different interests, without this degenerating the other side.

Equal but different.


message 17: by Szplug (last edited Jul 04, 2012 09:20PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Szplug I know I’m being controversial, but its a topic that probably needs to be aired

I agree with you—what's more, I love the way you assembled your critique. I wonder if one of the major draws for male readers is the relationship between the three generations of von Trotta's—and in particular, that of the father and son, whose sense of obligation and duty are a considerable part of what both structures their life with meaning and prevents them from ever being able to connect in a manner that would ease the pain of how isolating that duty can be, and how heavy a burden it proves the more that its flaws and encroaching hollowness become apparent.

I think such an exploration of filial bonds is one of the primary reasons that Agee's A Death in the Family proved so moving for me: the death of the father, and how it affected his young son (Agee)—including in ways that must have been extremely difficult to acknowledge and then work into the fiction—was strongly compelling. All of those myriad and lingering and intensely vital issues one develops towards the male parent over the years seem to present a reliable draw, at least for a decent percentage of the readership bearing functionally redundant nipples.


message 18: by knig (new) - rated it 2 stars

knig Chris, 'A death in the family' looks intriguing, and certainly the type of thing which would appeal to me: sold.


Szplug It's a powerful book, Kniga, though still unfinished when Agee died. The version I read—and which posthumously won Agee the Pulitzer—was edited together from the manuscript the author had been writing and emending for years. As with all such things, it has come to be criticized for the selections, reordering, and elisions that the publisher opted for—if you want to spend the bucks, there is this hardcover version that allegedly reconstitutes the story in the sequence that Agee had originally intended. If that sort of veracity is important to you. Me, I read the Bantam mass paperback, and still loved it.


message 20: by knig (new) - rated it 2 stars

knig Michael wrote: "No, I couldn't get along with it either; kept trying, but... relentless and militaristic the two words come instantly to mind."

I hear you


message 21: by knig (new) - rated it 2 stars

knig Chris wrote: "It's a powerful book, Kniga, though still unfinished when Agee died. The version I read—and which posthumously won Agee the Pulitzer—was edited together from the manuscript the author had been writ..."

I snapped it up last night for a penny. A vintage edition.


message 22: by Ali (new) - added it

Ali I second the Agee recommendation. After finishing the book, I immedietly wanted to read it again, if only to basque in his beautiful prose, of which I was doing plenty while reading it the first time, but I was focusing on the story as well, and reading it again while already knowing the plot would have allowed me to read the prose more thoroughly. I'd love to have the restored edition, but until I can be bothered throwing down the money, the old version, heavily edited as it may be, is still beautiful enough to savour.


message 23: by Moot (new)

Moot Attack Jeffrey wrote: "B0nnie wrote: "Jeffrey wrote: "I don't dispute that Jane Austen is important to literature, but I don't remember thinking to myself while reading the whole canon for a survey class in college that ..."

I wonder what you think about absence of East asians, African Americans, Egyptians in this novel. Do you think any novel has to have strong characters of all races, class and gender to be a literary masterpiece?

PC and gender and race eqaulity on GR is sometimes so ridiculous and absurd as much to remind me of the insane, crazy period of chinese cultural revolution.


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