Roth, Joseph

   writer; his work reflects a torment and nos-talgia induced by World War I and the collapse of the Habsburg monarchy. Born to a Jewish home in Brody (a Galician village now in Poland*), he was raised with his maternal grandfather when his father deserted the family. Study-ing in Vienna when war erupted, he enlisted in the Habsburg army in 1916 (leaving his studies incomplete) and was assigned to desk duties with the prop-aganda department. He later wrote that his "most powerful experience was the war and the fall of my fatherland, the only one I ever possessed."
   A member of the war's "lost generation," Roth returned to Vienna in 1918 poor and disillusioned. Eventually combining serious writing with journalism, he wrote successfully for several Viennese newspapers* and then relocated in 1921 to Berlin.* Fleeting socialist sympathies landed him a job with Vorwarts*; however, he soon moved to the Berliner Börsen-Courier. From 1923 until Hit-ler* seized power, he wrote essays and travel reports for the Frankfurter Zeitung. To research his reports, he went to France in 1925 and the Soviet Union* in 1926 (the last trip erased his socialist convictions). By the late 1920s he was one of Germany's highest-paid journalists. Yet it was his novels that won him fame: Hotel Savoy and Die Rebellion in 1924, Zipper und sein Vater in 1928, and Hiob (Job) in 1930. The line between fiction and reality was always blurred in Roth. His best-known novel, Radetzkymarsch (1932), is a nostalgic treatment of the Habsburg monarchy that superbly captures the spirit of the age of Franz Joseph.
   Leading a nomadic existence throughout Europe, Roth lived in hotels and did much of his writing in coffeehouses. He attempted to settle down early in his marriage (1922), but the endeavor was hopeless (his wife, diagnosed schizo-phrenic in 1928, fell victim to Nazi euthanasia in 1940). Deprived of his income and royalties in 1933, he fled to southern France; the next year he moved to Paris. After the Anschluss he began publishing the Österreichische Post, a pe-riodical advocating restoration of the Habsburgs. But his habitual drinking was by then beyond control. Although friends persuaded Archduke Otto, son of Austria's late Kaiser and a resident of Paris, to visit the author and attempt to convince him to stop drinking, the effort was futile. In May 1939 he died of alcoholism in a hospital for the indigent.
   REFERENCES:Bronsen, Joseph Roth; Ehrenburg, Memoirs; Francis, Viennese Enlight-enment; Mathew, Ambivalence and Irony.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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