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The Legend of The Holy Drinker

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  2,572 ratings  ·  204 reviews
This book, one of the most haunting things that Joseph Roth ever composed, was published in 1939, the same year the author died. Like Andreas, the hero of the story, Roth drank himself to death in Paris, but this is not an autobiographical confession. It is a secular miracle-tale, in which the vagrant Andreas, after living under bridges, has a series of lucky breaks that ...more
Paperback, 100 pages
Published October 16th 2001 by Granta Books (first published 1939)
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Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a strange tale - something between a magical wonder and a harsh social study.

What if a homeless drinker in Paris miraculously found himself with enough money to re-establish some of the basic needs of humankind? If he could eat, drink, dress and wash, and even have social and sexual encounters? What if he could once again remember who he is and what brought him to the delirious existence of sleeping rough and drinking when drink is available?

What if he was given the blessing of dying in a

[This book has been translated into English with the title The Legend of the Holy Drinker.]

Born on the outskirts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1894, Joseph Roth became a star journalist in Vienna, Frankfurt and Berlin while publishing a fair amount of fiction on the side. But on January 30, 1933, the day before Adolf Hitler became Germany's Chancellor, Roth left all that for exile in Paris, where he spent most of the rest of his life. In a letter to Stefan Zweig written around this time he
Guy Portman
Jul 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
The Legend of the Holy Drinker is a short novella written by the iconic Austrian-Jewish author and journalist Joseph Roth, best known for his seminal work, The Radetzky March. Set in Paris between the wars the story is about an alcoholic tramp by the name of Andreas, who lives under bridges of the river Seine. Andreas finds himself in luck when he is given two hundred francs by a stranger, which allows him to recapture something of his pre-tramp existence. Our generous spirited protagonist plans ...more
Claire  Admiral
Nov 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 stars ...more
Dhanaraj Rajan
Three and half stars......

It is a lovely story.
And as some other reviewer said it is like a folktale.

It is a story of a poor, pitiful vagabond who has a liking for alcohols is visited by a Good Samaritan who all of a sudden appears and offers him money. In return when it is possible the 'holy drinker' is to restore the debt to the church close by and specially to make an offering of it to St. Therese of Child Jesus, also known as Little Flower after attending the mass on Sunday.

Initially the
Sharon Barrow Wilfong
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
This bizarre little story left me pondering the possible meanings that Roth might be trying to communicate.

A homeless man, Andreas, is approached by a stranger who insists on giving him two hundred francs. The man's stipulation that he must eventually pay the sum back to St. Therese at at particular Cathedreal. Andreas promises.

It looks like his luck has changed. He spruces up and drinks,gets another job, more money and drinks. On Sunday he goes to Mass to pay back St. Therese. He comes too
Lee Klein
Aug 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
A feelgood alcoholic wish-fulfillment happy-ending hybrid of chilled-out Gogol and irresponsible Norman Rockwell. Makes you wanna down a few Pernod and visit cafes where ladies for hire hang out. A short story more than a novella. The last thing Roth wrote. Not really on the same level as his masterpiece, The Radetzky March, but a nice lil' literary sumptin' sump.
Apr 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
A well-crafted, easy-to-read novella. Breezed through it with pleasure.
Charlotte Jones
This was my first read of Joseph Roth's but his final book. Drawing on the author's own life, this novella takes the life of a lowly alcoholic homeless man and takes us through a series of extraordinary 'miracles', happenings that proceed to raise his fortune and his standing in life, only to see it lost and won over again.

This was simply written and had an almost fable-like quality to it. There were simplistic illustrations at the beginning of each chapter that added to this kind of fairytale
Ana Ruiz
Apr 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016, read-in-spanish
I am torn between rating this four stars or three stars. I will rate it three to glamourize myself into sharp literary critical eye.

Anyways, I really enjoyed this book, but then, I feel that it's not a new story, although it WAS told with the innovativeness of alcohol's sacrality and the result was oh so dear. (At some point in the book I felt I was reading a historical version of MTV's Made, the TV show.) It's fun, short and snappy, an all around recommendable read, but debatably undeserving of
This autobiographical novella reads like a 20th century fable. The protagonist, Andreas Karnak, is a Polish immigrant in Paris who has been through rough times and is now an alcoholic who lives on the streets. A stranger lends him two hundred francs, which he fails to return despite his best intentions. Andreas is a tragic and flawed yet dignified figure, who is a "saint" because he seems to live in the world without ever actually being part of it. His simplicity makes him appreciate "miracles" ...more
Dublin James
May 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing

you remember the scene in the simpsons where hans moleman says "you stole X amount of minutes from my life and i want them back!"....... well trust me that won't apply here! for you'll finish this book in under an hour though it will stay with you a lifetime.

next time you browse through philip roth books at your local bookshop do yourself a favour and look to the left of these for joseph roth's books. then pick out this book and enjoy.
Mar 04, 2014 rated it liked it
We cannot control our destiny, I think is the main message of this book
When watching the New Year Concert from Vienna on TV this week, I was reminded that Strauss' polkas and waltzes formed the popular music of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, while his marches were played by the imperial army bands. That Empire, governed from the "musical" capital of Vienna, consisted of Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Czech, northeastern parts of Italy, Romania, Croatia, Bosnia, part of Ukraine, part of Poland, etc. It was a truly multinational state, and that was also its problem, as ...more
Michael Haase
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Part religious parody, part socio-psychological tragicomedy, Joseph Roth's novella about a homeless man's surprise encounter with a large sum of cash strikes cords on several levels, inciting a range of emotional attitudes from hope and pity to disappointment and scorn, and revealing to us a part of ourselves we'd probably rather not acknowledge. Despite Andreas' shabby characterization, he embodies an eternal struggle which every man and woman faces, regardless of their circumstances; a ...more
Merry Creig
Jul 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Andrea's reflected us a person who has to do something like paying debts in life. Indeed Andreas was an ordinary man until he had met the rich guy underground near Seine river, yet he accepted money and he owed this man but this man warned him not to be owed him, to be owed Saint little Theresa. He took chance many times to pay back his debt to Saint Theresa but there was a ban on his life all the time.
Some parts of this novel I found myself and regrets. This novel shows us the chances in our
Brett Warnke
Mar 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As you walk through life’s many hardships, the great Austrian Joseph Roth helps you remember the generosity of spirit and jolly wastrels that bring a sparkle to life’s ordered facade. His Andreas wanders—without opinion, perspective, or caprice. He drinks and maintains a brief toehold on the earth as luck or Providence or some kind of hidden blessing sends him gently down a river of booze, under Paris’s bridges, and to his life’s last creditors.
Apr 01, 2018 rated it liked it
This book, translated by Michael Hoffman, will only take a couple of hours at most to read but take your time over it. A trusting and at times naive alcoholic has a run of good luck which improves his life. The story has humour and warmth with an almost fairy-tale quality about it. One for your bookshelf.
Felipe CZ
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Andreas, a clochard, encounters an elegant man who gives him money, to be paid later on to St. Theresa in a church in France. But the clochard faces many adventures and encounters different people, as well as old lovers, as he spends, manages and even gets more money. A very entertaining book.
Hopeful and sad.
Joyous and hopeless.
Jan 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really found this interesting. Having read several of Joseph Roth's books, I remain a great fan.
Dean Anderson
Jul 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
The film made from this novella stars the recently departed, great Rutger Hauer in a very fine performance.
João Antonio
Jan 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice short story of an old homeless immigrant with his blessings and defects, and how he gets along after something marvelous happens to him.
Ivar Dale
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Woah! More of this guy.

The Legend of the Holy Drinker by Joseph Roth is a sparkling novella about Andreas, a drunkard (translator Michael Hofmann uses the wonderful term 'clochard') living under the bridges of Paris. Andreas experiences a host of minor miracles, starting with a generous gift from a devotee of St Thérèse de Lisieux. Andreas promises to repay this gift to the chapel of the devotee’s choosing. The only things as consistent as Andreas’ lucky breaks are the
David Klein
Dec 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If there is a God, we could do worse than if He were the narrator of THE LEGEND OF THE HOLY DRINKER: a compassionately ironic observer of the haplessness of man's striving for grace. Certainly not condemning, but not quite forgiving, He's more a documentarian, but a fond one who appears to have a sustained affection for us clochards who walk the earth. Anyway, I'm not at all confident I understand what Roth is doing, but here's my shot at it:
It doesn't matter whether you believe in the reality
Lorenzo Lara
Jan 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literatura
One of the best books Ive read. Subtle, surprising, sensitive, dramatic, beautifully written. A jewel! I read it in Spanish, Anagrama 2001, with a terrific prologue by Carlos Barral that says: "...una narración admirable, escrita en un estilo trémulo..."
I would like to quote a few paragraphs from the book itself:
-¿Adónde le llevan sus pasos, hermano? -inquirió el caballero mayor bien trajeado.
El otro (el clochard) le echó una leve mirada, para contestar luego:
-Que yo sepa, no tengo hermano, ni
Jun 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a powerful little book. It illustrates the maxim, that when you have been down so long it begins to look like up. The protagonist is a terminal drinker. He has long given up, but a succession of small miracles occur in his life and he regains a something of the will to live... Slowly his tale is told by a succession of chance encounters, but one cannot help but feel there is something else at work here besides chance...
Nov 18, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, philosophy
The Granta Edition of Joseph Roth's last novel, more a fable/short story if you will. It is the absorbing story of a down and out drunk living on the banks of the Seine in Paris who in the last month of his life is blessed by a series of small miracles that allow him to reconnect with old companions, enjoy a few good meals, down some expensive and not so expensive booze before he dies. The story is simply told with a remarkably deft style. It was Roth's last novel.
Mar 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For some time I've been thinking about picking up one of Joseph Roth's novels, and I decided to begin with this short story (less than 100 pages short). Upon completing it, I bought some more of his novels, and I think it will make an interesting addition to the other Mr. Roth I think very highly of, Philip Roth.
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Goodreads Librari...: page count correction 2 14 Jan 12, 2018 01:04PM  

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Joseph Roth, journalist and novelist, was born and grew up in Brody, a small town near Lemberg in East Galicia, part of the easternmost reaches of what was then the Austro-Hungarian empire and is now Ukraine. Roth was born into a Jewish family. He died in Paris after living there in exile.
“So they bring our poor Andreas into the vestry, and unfortunately he's no longer capable of speech, all he can do is reach for the left inside pocket of his jacket where he has the money he owes the little creditress, and he says: 'Miss Thérèse!' - and he sighs once, and he dies.
May God grant us all, all of us drinkers, such a good and easy death!”
“Voglia Dio concedere a tutti noi,a noi bevitori,una morte così lieve e bella” 0 likes
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