The Letters of Joseph Roth

I’ve been rather preoccupied for the last month with work, bouts of wintery ill health, Christmas and various other things that interfere with reading. In fact, I shouldn’t be doing this right now, but I wanted to draw attention to this excerpt from the newly translated letters of Joseph Roth. Michael Hamburger has taken a break from slagging off Stefan Zweig – I will probably be writing more about that at some point – to translate Roth’s letters, and the New Yorker has kindly printed the ones addressed to Zweig. They make for interesting reading.

In the picture above, Zweig is on the left and Roth on the right.

EDITED: I’ve just glanced over this post and realised I wrote Michael Hamburger above rather than Michael Hofmann. Michael Hofmann is the one who has been kicking up a fuss about Zweig’s style; Michael Hamburger was a poet and translator of Celan, Sebald, and various others, and as he died in 2007 it was a little amiss of me to accuse him of critical sniping. All these damn Michaels. Sorry about that.


2 thoughts on “The Letters of Joseph Roth

  1. Thank you Trew, I’ll look out for that.

    I fairly recently enjoyed Roth’s “Job”, an incredible family saga which is up to the standard of his great “Radetzky March”. Are there any other early twentieth century Jewish-Austrian writers I wonder — Wittgenstein counts I suppose?


    1. That’s a good question. I put Roth and Zweig in the same category as Robert Musil, although he wasn’t Jewish, and Antal Szerb, although he was the Hungarian part of Austro-Hungarian. If you haven’t read Szerb then buy ‘Journey By Moonlight’ immediately, it’s brilliant. Musil’s ‘A Man Without Qualities’ is quite off putting – very long and densely written – but his short fiction is well worth reading.
      There are probably loads more Jewish-Austrian twentieth century writers who haven’t been translated yet…


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