Joseph Roth, Austrian writer and journalist of the early twentieth century


Joseph Roth, the May 27 the anniversary of his death is just 44 years old.

The short life of Joseph Roth

Born on September 2 of 1894 by a Jewish family in Galicia, the one of Joseph Roth it was a not so miserable childhood.

The mother, Mary, he comes from a family of textile merchants while his father, Nachum, is a grain trader.

In 1913 he moved to Vienna to attend studies but, in just over twenty years, the Great War. By nature, he volunteers in 1916, after changing his mind, and lives in a barracks in Vienna as an army press officer.

After the conflict, Roth will be recruited as a contributor to the cultural pages of the Der Neue Tag.

In his articles he describes what is the daily life of people in post-war Vienna. A sort of city chronicle, in a metaphorical key.

He traveled to different European countries but after 1933, to escape from Nazism and the anti-Jewish ideas that were beginning to spread in German-speaking countries, he takes refuge in Paris.

His novelsinstead, they were born from 1922 onwards. For example, let’s remember The spider’s web, Savoy hotel is The rebellionand, first appearing in installments in newspapers and later united in a real book.

Among the most famous we find Endless escape, The crypt of the Capuchins but most of all Job, subtitled by him Novel of a simple man.

Joseph Roth, Job. Cover photo. Photo: Adelphi

The protagonist is the “simple man” Mendel Singer, a Jewish teacher who teaches the Bible to the children of the town where he lives, in Russian Volinia. A peaceful life until the birth of the fourth child, Menuchim, psychically and physically handicapped.

The Singer family is forced to emigrate to the United States, entrusting his son Menuchim to some friends in Russia, and is the beginning of a series of mali that will fall on the family: the daughter and the children will be affected one after the other by war, death, madness.

Family conflicts, the disintegration of the family, the collapse of certainties contribute to creating a gloomy and bleak picture and as Mendel Singer’s faith fades, he has pushed himself to hope for better places and times, a vain hope as it does not seem there is a way out.

For long years, day and night, hour by hour he had waited for the promised miracle. The dead in the afterlife did not help, the rabbi did not help, God did not want to help. A sea of ​​tears had cried. There had been night in his heart, pain in every joy since the birth of Menuchim. All the feasts had been torments and days of mourning all the days of celebration. No more spring or summer. Winter was called all seasons. The sun rose but did not heat. Only hope didn’t want to die.

The destruction of the American dream in the climate of Jewish emigration, these are the historical foundations of the novel that Roth highlights.

The eradication of man who seems to have forgotten traditions, values ​​and all forms of security.

L’narrative ability Roth is just that, he manages to describe the events of the Jews of Central Europe forced to emigrate to the Western Europe and the United States of America, after the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy.

The modern diaspora which causes the dispersion of a people’s religious and cultural heritage.

Between 1937 and 1939 the economic situation, in addition to Roth’s health, worsened. The May 27, 1939 dies a Paris for pneumonia, destroyed by alcoholism.

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