Wednesday, 20 May 2009

The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth

No, not really at all environmental, but Roth had an eye for nature so I'll use that as an excuse for posting about this wonderful and heartbreaking novel. This book tells a personal story (the dissolution of Lieutenant Trotta) against a finely evoked historical background (the collapse of the Austro Hungarian empire). Roth uses detail to offer meaningful insight into character and history, every detail counts towards understanding the whole. So, back to the eye for nature, here is an example:

...everyone who was born there was aquainted with the treacherousness of the swamps, and a lot of that treacherousness was with them, in their own veins. In spring and in summer, the air was filled with the incessant fat chirruping of frogs. Under the canopy of sky there was an equally fat trilling of skylarks. It was like a never-ending dialogue between sky and swamp.

Michael Hoffman must also be congratulated for this wonderful translation, one of the best translations I've read, it flows beautifully.

Radetzky March by Joseph Roth 1932, translated by Michael Hoffman, 2002, published by Granta


Janice Thomson said...

I like those phrases: "fat chirruping" and "fat trilling" - really powerful phrases. Would love to read this book.

Lucy said...

I was going to remark on the use of 'fat' there too!

Sounds good.

d. moll, said...

I'll keep a fat eye out for this one.