Rating 4 of five The Publisher Says The book description from is unusually cryptic It says The Radetzky March, Joseph Roth s classic saga of the privileged von Trotta family, encompasses the entire social fabric of the Austro Hungarian Empire just before World War I The author s greatest achievement, The Radetzky March is an unparalleled portrait of a civilization in decline, and as such, a universal story for our times.My Review The Trotta family, beneficiaries of the gratitude of the most inept politician and soldier ever to lead an empire, rise to dizzying social heights based on a misunderstanding of an actual brave and generous act The First Baron saves the Emperor s life by knocking the fool off of his horse in the course of losing a battle The Emperor s gift of a title to his Slovenian savior sets in motion a long, slow decline and fall, paralleling the Empire s own fate.The Second Baron, excited by Papa s rep as a war hero and having no other information about the subject than other peoples gossip, wants to be a cavalry officer like his papa Papa, who was actually an infantry lieutenant and who is revolted by the gossipy fate of his deed, refuses either to discuss the matter or to allow his son into the military So the second baron becomes a bureaucrat ruling the lives of people he feels superior to He and the rest of the Trotta family are firmly convinced they are to the manor born Papa sighs to himself, keeps his lip zipped, and dies.The Baron in waiting becomes the cavalry officer his papa wanted to be What a complete wastrel this goofball is He truly buys in heavily to the privilege and prerogatives of being titled and in the Army YUCKAPOOVICH And then, in the course of duty, the scales fall from shoulda been Third Baron Lieutenant Trotta s eyes The story of how that happens is a spoiler, so I have to leave it out of this review, except to say that it was at this point that my flagging interest in finishing this tome woke right back up and I wanted to read.I read the ending of the book in a rush, saddened and hurting for the Second Baron whose life was ending as his world was too It was 1916, the Empire s effective end, and it is told in the simplest and most moving terms, in a scene of touching misdirected loyalty and typically unanswered love.Joachim Neugroschel translated the edition I read It was a pleasure to readwhen the story could be bothered to perform its parlor tricks to keep me interested There are stretches of the Second Baron s life that made me want to scrub my eyelids with witch hazel to tighten them into the open position But as I read on, lulled by the gentle rocking of the style train Roth sent me to war aboard, I realized that this, the warm velour first class seat in the wood lined first class compartment, was a comfortable place to be, and I was content to trust the train s course would end in a place I d want to be.It did It s a pleasure to have taken the journey at last. The slow disintegration of an empire, told through the lives of three generations of the Trotta family All serve the empire in various ways Narrowly focused lives, regimented, narrow, depending on routine, thrown if anything is out of order Unemotional, lives dedicated to duty and I still something unexpected happens that forces them to change focus, they are very seldom introspective.All events happening are seen through the eyes of this family When the second Trotta visits his son at the border, he realizes the empire is diminishing, Now returning home alone, from a lonesome son and from this borderland, where the collapse of the world could already be seen as one sees a thunderstorm on the edge of the city, whose streets lie still unaware and blissful under a blue sky Hose posted on the border, wait for a battle that never comes It is a life of boredom, gambling, drinking and visits to houses of ill repute They are all just waiting for the end to come, which of course it eventually does with an assassination.This is a wonderful rendering of a sociological novel I didn t expect to enjoy this as much as I did The prose is wonderful, yes sometimes repetitive in thoughts but such is the nature of the men who they belong to These are men who have a very small imagination, though as the novel goes on one see them change in slow ways, displaying feelings, but never acting without thinking something through over and over again Excess feelings are squelched, they have no place in regimented lives There is humor of an ironic nature, observations that fit the man but struck me as amusing Of course the Radetzky March is played at various points and even when it seems pointless, the men like the March continue on. The Radetzky March Charts The History Of The Trotta Family Through Three Generations Spanning The Rise And Fall Of The Austro Hungarian Empire Through The Battle Of Solferino, To The Entombment Of The Last Hapsburg Emperor, Roth S Intelligent Compassionate Narrative Illuminates The Crumbling Of A Way Of Life 4.5 starsThis classic tale of the end of an era, the decline of the Austro Hungarian Empire and the start of the Great War, is one that deserves a time of reflection after reading the last page It s not a tome by any means, coming in at less than 400 pages, but it is nearly epic in scope when one considers that it seems to take in the entirety of a way of life, a civilization that is doomed Like a fine red wine, I needed to leave this book to sit for a while, and it has indeed grown markedly satisfying The writing is excellent and Joseph Roth bares the souls of his protagonists, namely the district captain Herr von Trotta and his son, Carl Joseph Descendants of the Hero of Solferino, a Slovenian peasant knighted for saving the life of the Kaiser during the Battle of Solferino, the Trottas are now an aristocratic family Upon the insistence of the Hero himself, the son Franz von Trotta obtains a political office as a district commissioner Likewise, district captain Franz von Trotta chooses the career for his own son therefore young Carl Joseph attends military school and is awarded with a lieutenant s commission, despite the fact he distinguished himself as perhaps mediocre at best The district captain s life is steeped in tradition He follows the same routine each day, he is waited on by the devoted servant, Jacques, he wears his whiskersas proof of his dynastic conviction , and he does not exhibit outward signs of affection towards his son either in public or in private The Radetzky March , a march composed by Johann Strauss Sr and well known among the Austrian regiments, features prominently in both the father and son s lives as a symbol of the era in which they were bornThe rugged drums rolled, the sweet flutes piped, and the lovely cymbals shattered The faces of all the spectators lit up with pleasant and pensive smiles, and the blood tingled in their legs Though standing, they thought they were already marching The younger girls held their breath and opened their lips The mature men hung their heads and recalled their maneuvers The elderly ladies sat in the neighboring park, their small gray heads trembling And it was summer As he sits on his balcony listening to Kapellmeister Nechwal s band perform the famous march week after week, the district captain fails to recognize the whisper of things to come in the empire Only when his own regulated life starts to slowly deteriorate in parallel with the gradual decay of his homeland does Herr von Trotta begin to perceive changes on the horizon Lieutenant Carl Joseph von Trotta, with the portrait of his grandfather the Hero of Solferino always in his mind and the sounds of The Radetzky March lingering in his ears, suffers from a different sort of foreboding A young man completely out of his element as a soldier, Carl Joseph yearns for friendship, love and freedom to do as he pleases, not as his father commands And yet, his sense of duty to father and grandfather compels him to remain in a position that leads him to unhappiness and one disaster on the heels of another When he is forced to transfer to a remote outpost near the Russian border, the young lieutenant is pursued by his fate and the destiny of the crumbling Austro Hungarian EmpireAny stranger coming into this region was doomed to gradual decay No one was as strong as the swamp No one could hold out against the borderland By this time, the high placed gentlemen in Vienna and St Petersburg were already starting to prepare for the Great War The borderlanders felt it coming earlier than the others, not only because they were used to sensing future things but also because they could see the omens of doom every day with their own eyes There is so much that could be said about this brilliant novel, but there is no way I could succinctly or eloquently express all that Joseph Roth managed to convey within these pages It is not an easy read, but a highly rewarding one If you are at all inclined to invest some additional time and contemplation to learning about a period that seemed to simultaneously stand still and yet in the blink of an eye hurl the world into one of the greatest wars of all time, then I would recommend you grab a copy of this Reminiscent in tone to some of the great Russian classics, The Radetzky March will likewise endure the test of timeSo strange, so mutable, and so confused is the human soul Woe to the multitude of many people, which make a noise like the noise of the seas and to the rushing of nations, that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters Isaiah 17 12Empires rise and fall Dynasties appear and dissipate The Radetzky March is a story about a perishment of both an empire and a family.Everything started this way The round years rolled by, one by one, like peaceful, uniform wheels In keeping with his status, Trotta married his colonel s not quite young well off niece, the daughter of a district captain in western Bohemia he fathered a boy, enjoyed the uniformity of his healthy military life in the small garrison, rode horseback to the parade ground every morning, and played chess every afternoon with the lawyer at the caf , eventually feeling at home in his rank, his station, his standing, and his repute He had an average military gift, of which he provided average samples at maneuvers every year he was a good husband, suspicious of women, no gambler, grouchy, but a just officer, a fierce enemy of all deceit, unmanly conduct, cowardly safety, garrulous praise, and ambitious self seeking He was as simple and impeccable as his military record, and only the anger that sometimes took hold of him would have given a judge of human nature some inkling that Captain Trotta s soul likewise contained the dim nocturnal abysses where storms slumber and the unknown voices of nameless ancestors The Radetzky March is mainly the story of the grandson who decided to follow in footsteps of his heroic grandfather.This is the time and place Any stranger coming into this region was doomed to gradual decay No one was as strong as the swamp No one could hold out against the borderland By this time, the high placed gentlemen in Vienna and St Petersburg were already starting to prepare for the Great War The borderlanders felt it coming earlier than the others, not only because they were used to sensing future things but also because they could see the omens of doom every day with their own eyes They profited even from these preparations Any number of them lived from spying and counterspying they received Austrian guldens from the Austrian police and Russian rubles from the Russian police And in the isolated swampy bleakness of the garrison, one or another officer fell prey to despair, gambling, debts, and sinister men The graveyards of border garrisons held many young corpses of weak men.And the main character was a weak man so he was doomed to disappear along with his fatherland And all this was happening to the glorious military music It would be best to die for him amid military music, easiest with The Radetzky March The swift bullets whistled in cadence around Carl Joseph s ears, his naked saber flashed, and, his heart and head brimming with the lovely briskness of the march, he sank into the drumming intoxication of the music, and his blood oozed out in a thin dark red trickle upon the glistening gold of the trumpets, the deep black of the drums, and the victorious silver of the cymbals.Those who lack willpower are always full of idealistic dreams but their dreams never come to pass. I want to single out The Radetzky March as my favorite book of 2011 It is the story of the fall of the Austrian Empire as reflected in the fortunes of the Trotta family through three generations Our story largely centers around young Carl Joseph von Trotta of the third generation and his father, the District Captain of W To get to that story, however, Roth compresses into the first 35 pages or so, a beautifully patterned and nuanced story of Carl Joseph s forebears That is, first the story of Joseph Trotta, the peasant from Sipolje, who, on saving the life of the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I at the Battle of Solferino is raised to the rank of captain and ennobled, and his father Carl Joseph s great grandfather Carl Joseph von Trotta is a sensitive fellow capable of deep love and friendship whose time in the Army is a mistake from the start We watch him endure his upbringing by a widower father who has even less intellectual acumen than himself Carl Joseph is the grandson of the Hero of Solferino He cannot sit a horse, nevertheless he is in cavalry He is allowed to skate through academic challenges he would otherwise fail Opportunities are open to him that his fellow officers could never attain We see the empire though his eyes as one of empty pomp and immense drunkeness which leads to a terrible entropy that pervades everything The multi cultural empire s time is passing No longer will such a vast heterogeneous stew of ethnic groups Magyars, Poles, Ukranians, Czechs, Serbs, Croats, Romanians, etc representing all three monotheistic faiths allow themselves to be artificially melded together by foreign force We are at the onset of the age of nationalism and sectarian violence Hitler and Stalin are in the wings.This political context is important but it is the narrative of the Trottas that brings it home and gives it tragic immediacy Everyone is so locked into their roles When Carl Joseph writes his father to announce the news that he will leave the army, his father s world, much like the son s, comes tumbling down All the assumptions about the correct path to dignity and honor are changing Indeed, the District Captain simply looks up one day and notices that everything has changed and he never saw it coming The District Captain then says something that for me encapsulated the thrust of the whole novel When he is told by a club crony, Dr Skowronnek, that he is starting to play chess like a champion, he says Maybe I could have become one Dr Skowronnek then sums it all up Things were different back then, he says Now not even the Kaiser bears responsibility for the Monarchy Why it even looks as though God himself no longer wishes to bear responsibility for the world It was easier in those days Everything was so secure Every stone lay in its place The streets of life were well paved Secure roofs rested on the walls of the houses But today, Herr District Captain, the stones of the street lie askew and confused, and in dangerous heaps, and the roofs have holes, and the rain falls into the houses, and everyone has to know on his own what street he is taking and what kind of house he is moving into When your late father said you would become a public official rather than a farmer, he was right You became a model official But when you told your own son he had to become a soldier, you were wrong He is not a model soldier.It is about this time, too, rather late in the book, that the tone turns elegaic It s as if we re seeing the past glories of the Empire rushing past like the lives of the dying are said to do From the start the writing is vivid and sustained over great stretches in a way that seems almost miraculous Highly recommended. DNF subject matter is slow and boring to me It is regarded as a modern classic but this is a book that I would slog through and would take away from other books on my tbr I hope the others participating in the buddy read I was in enjoy it better than I did. The world was no longer the old world It was about to end Joseph Roth dazzles with irony and pathos looking at the dying Austro Hungarian Empire through the eyes of three generations of the Trotta family, a once proud dynasty devoted to King and Country that had total faith in military life, which slowly starts to disintegrate as times change heading towards the Great War This had both elements of a sweeping grand epic albeit on a smaller scale that galloped along in tune with it s characters, and a sad intimate account of how living in the shadows of past close family can have an effect of trying to leave an important legacy of ones own.The Radetzky March Johann Strauss , is used as the dedicated piece of music for the war horse of the Empire, and is seen as a symbol of greatness within the regiments The story predominantly looks at the youngest and last member of the Trotta family, Carl Joseph, which he lives paralleled with the glory of his Grandfather, the hero of Solferino, Joseph Trotta, who famously saved the life of the Emperor After his promotion and ennoblement, Baron Joseph von Trotta degrades into rural obscurity, and stubbornly opposes his son, Franz , who has aspirations to a military career, thus following in fathers footsteps Franz is a conservative man and pillar to the nation, who takes to his son Carl Joseph better in terms of a military career The grandson, Carl Joseph, has a character that is very different from his forefathers, that lands himself in bother throughout, consistently with disastrous results.The life of Carl Joseph is not a happy one, he stands bitterly with a frivolous and doomed generation, where the temptations of the flesh, heavy drinking, dangerous gambling and debts are all to often difficult to stay away from, a relationship with the wife of a police commander would leave him in turmoil, along with an affair with the wife of his best friend, resulting in a senseless duel It seems as if everything Carl Joseph does, crumbles expeditiously in his hands He sinks into despondency, becoming old and melancholic before his time, living mostly in an alcoholic daze, burdened with having have let his forefathers down Ending up in a remote military outpost near the border with Russia, Carl Joseph is thrust into action as the Great War breaks out, with the proud Trotta name heading towards triviality.Roth has clearly put so much effort into The Austrio Hungarian Empire way of life, a world with a clear order, clear rules and tight regulations, and he uses historical persons and events in a most imaginative way with a voice that is always full of compassion, he treats the death of a small thing like a canary with as much feeling as he does with man I am not entirely sure it worked as the novel I was hoping for, but he puts his heart and soul into writing this, that s definitive.The fact that those bloody evil Nazis had to prohibit Roth s work because he was of Jewish ancestry is a travesty, and after remained long in obscurity, taking far too long for him to be rehabilitated, I am happy to have finally read what is regarded as his best work A vigorous and deep rooted piece of writing, but layered with a sadness of Roth s own problematic life. When my children were very little, one of their favourite games involved sitting on the foam filled back of the family sofa pretending to be on horseback They d perch in a row, one leg on each side and bounce up and down to the rhythm of what they called the horsey music Whenever I hear The Radetzky March by Johann Strauss, that gorgeous memory comes back in a flash My kids were right That nineteenth century military tune is definitely horsey music Listen to it yourself You can hear the high stepping cavalry launching from a trot to a gallop, hooves thundering, nostrils snorting, then wheeling around to gallop back to the starting point before beginning all over again And you can hear foot soldiers too, standing to attention, clipping their heels, marching forward, swords jangling, sabres rattling, marching, marching, marching.But for all that it is full of of the crashing and booming, the clanging and banging, the ringing and jingling of the battle field, it is uplifting music too You smile, though you are anti war, you clap your hands and tap your feet, though you think boys should never be sacrificed to meaningless causes As I read Joseph Roth s book, I reacted as I react to the Strauss music, uplifted by the spirit of it but downcast by the waste of lives in the service of a monstrous military machine And Roth s tone throughout the book seems equally ambivalent He holds the military machine that was the Austro Hungarian Empire in fierce affection, but at the same time he is absolutely in favour of the ending of the tight control of peoples minds and lives that such empires were built upon His nostalgia battles with his humanity, and we hear the sound of that battle right through the book Rainstorms thunder, train carriages smash and crash against each other, bells peal, bugles blare, the drumbeats of the Radetsky March boom out at regular intervals And all the while, innumerable clocks count the story down towards the Serbian gunman whose ringing shot will mark the ending of an era As I turned the pages, I was reminded of the title of a book I read some years ago, coincidently by an author whose later books I ve been reading recently Julian Barnes The Sense of an Ending begins with a reference to that same Serbian gunman, and I kept thinking that Barnes title encapsulates Roth s book perfectly there is the sense of an ending right from the beginning Roth never allows us to forget that the book is about ending , the ending of a way of thinking, the ending of a way of living, and the ending of millions of lives in a meaningless war.That Roth conveys all of that while simultaneously offering the reader exuberance, uplifted feelings, and enormous hope in humanity, is the achievement of this incredible book I m very glad to have finally discovered Joseph Roth 20 1930 , 1859 1916 .
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.
- 384 pages
- Joseph Roth
- 07 June 2019 Joseph Roth