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Philip Roth in Israel

Julian Barnes, 5 March 1987

The Counterlife 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 336 pp., £10.95, February 1987, 0 224 02871 5
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... Philip Roth’s new novel is marvellously rich, boisterously serious, dense, fizzing and formally audacious. More than with most novels, to review it is to betray it. This isn’t inappropriate, since one of Roth’s abiding themes is fiction’s betrayal of life and the novelist’s treachery to those who surround him ...

In the Opposite Direction

David Blackbourn: Enzensberger, 25 March 2010

The Silences of Hammerstein 
by Hans Magnus Enzensberger, translated by Martin Chalmers.
Seagull, 465 pp., £20, 1 906497 22 2
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... died in Buchenwald. Helga had a long relationship with the Communist underground functionary Leo Roth, a victim of Stalin’s purges in 1937, through whom she passed information from her father’s desk to the Comintern. Maria Therese married Joachim Paasche, the son of a prominent Jewish pacifist murdered in 1920 by right-wing paramilitaries – a marriage ...

Prophet in a Tuxedo

Richard J. Evans: Walter Rathenau, 22 November 2012

Walther Rathenau: Weimar’s Fallen Statesman 
by Shulamit Volkov.
Yale, 240 pp., £18.99, April 2012, 978 0 300 14431 4
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... through the fledgling Weimar Republic. In the subsequent Reichstag debate, the chancellor, Joseph Wirth, caused uproar by accusing the right-wing press of inciting the murder. Pointing to the nationalist benches, he declared: ‘There stands the enemy who drips his poison into the wounds of a people. There stands the enemy, and there is no doubt about ...

From Shtetl to Boulevard

Paul Keegan: Freud’s Mother, 5 October 2017

Freud: In His Time and Ours 
by Elisabeth Roudinesco, translated by Catherine Porter.
Harvard, 580 pp., £27.95, November 2016, 978 0 674 65956 8
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Freud: An Intellectual Biography 
by Joel Whitebook.
Cambridge, 484 pp., £30, February 2017, 978 0 521 86418 3
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... from shtetl to boulevard. The materials remain scanty, and perhaps only a novelist like Joseph Roth could write inwardly of Freud’s origins and early trajectory. The drift west and south after the extension of civil rights for Austro-Hungarian Jews in the wake of 1848 is the deep time of Roth’s ...

In a Cold Country

Michael Wood: Coetzee’s Grumpy Voice, 4 October 2007

Diary of a Bad Year 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Harvill, 231 pp., £16.99, September 2007, 978 1 84655 120 8
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Inner Workings: Essays 2000-2005 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Harvill, 304 pp., £17.99, March 2007, 978 1 84655 045 4
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... fiction.’ It is in this mode that we hear, in Inner Workings, of Italo Svevo, Bruno Schulz, Joseph Roth, W.G. Sebald. The method is less biographical for Saul Bellow, Graham Greene, Nadine Gordimer and others, and a long, frosty essay on Walter Benjamin engages crucial concepts thoroughly and ends in a magnificent, if ambiguous tribute: ‘From a ...

A Big Life

Michael Hofmann: Seamus Heaney, 4 June 2015

New Selected Poems 1988-2013 
by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 222 pp., £18.99, November 2014, 978 0 571 32171 1
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... he seemed to make his way into whatever I was doing, even the unlikeliest things. Into Kafka. Into Joseph Roth. He got into everything. Nothing seemed to be free of him, or to go without him. Perhaps it’s because of the contradictory or revisionist impulses you find in him everywhere, so he is all over many arguments. Into the past (the dinnseanchas ...

Levi’s Oyster

Karl Miller, 4 August 1988

The Drowned and the Saved 
by Prime Levi, translated by Raymond Rosenthal.
Joseph, 170 pp., £10.95, April 1988, 0 7181 3063 4
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... death which was recorded in an article published in the London Review (23 October 1986), Philip Roth found him as keen as mustard: here was someone who listened, with the intent stillness of a chipmunk. Levi had a high opinion of the grain of mustard, and of salt. Fascism did not like these substances. He associated the grain of mustard with his own ...

Not Altogether Lost

James Hamilton-Paterson: The Tasaday, 19 June 2003

Invented Eden: The Elusive, Disputed History of the Tasaday 
by Robin Hemley.
Farrar, Straus, 352 pp., $25, May 2003, 0 374 17716 3
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... helicopter descended and their lives were suddenly overwhelmed by devouring 20th-century voices. Joseph Roth got this right in his essay ‘Passengers with Heavy Loads’, watching refugees arrive in Berlin from remote rural areas after the First World War: ‘And what do the forest people talk about? They speak in half sentences and stunted ...

Zip the Lips

Lorna Scott Fox: A novel plea for silence, 2 June 2005

Your Face Tomorrow 1: Fever and Spear 
by Javier Marías, translated by Margaret Jull Costa.
Chatto, 376 pp., £17.99, May 2005, 9780701176754
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The Man of Feeling 
by Javier Marías, translated by Margaret Jull Costa.
Vintage, 135 pp., £7.99, February 2005, 0 09 945367 3
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... creepy little fable is well served by its old-fashioned atmosphere; we could be in the world of Joseph Roth or Somerset Maugham. The same quaintness does nothing for Fever and Spear. Now that our paranoias are fed by technology, from CCTV to loyalty cards, the artisanal image of clever chaps guessing at psychological essences strangely misses the ...

That Time

Liam McIlvanney: Magda Szabó, 15 December 2005

The Door 
by Magda Szabó, translated by Len Rix.
Harvill Secker, 262 pp., £15.99, October 2005, 1 84343 193 9
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... with Middle European history is more circumscribed and static than that of, say, Jaroslav Hasek or Joseph Roth, whose cast of soldiers, merchants and revolutionaries has a vagabond mobility. But what Szabó demonstrates, quite superbly, is the resonance of intimate spaces. The temptation, for the novelist of national trauma, is to stage the great public ...

Extreme Understanding

Jenny Diski: Irmgard Keun, 10 April 2008

Child of All Nations 
by Irmgard Keun, translated by Michael Hofmann.
Penguin, 195 pp., £14.99, January 2008, 978 0 7139 9907 5
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... was travelling around Europe between 1936 and 1938, for part of that time with the itinerant Joseph Roth. He died in exile of the effects of alcohol in 1939, and Keun returned to Germany, a formerly bestselling but now blacklisted writer, to live incognito throughout the war. The novel consists of Kully, her writer father, who is forever somewhere ...

Part of the Empire

Natasha Wheatley: Habsburg History, 30 August 2018

The Habsburg Empire: A New History 
by Pieter Judson.
Harvard, 567 pp., £17.95, September 2018, 978 0 674 98676 3
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... every public building, every school and every church in all the Crownlands of the Empire’, Joseph Roth wrote in 1935, were ‘certain specific and unmistakeable manifestations that recurred’. ‘All over, the wooden doors of the K. and K. Trafik stores were painted in black and yellow diagonals; all over, tax inspectors wore the same green ...

City of Blood

Peter Pulzer, 9 November 1989

The Jews of Vienna in the Age of Franz Joseph 
by Robert Wistrich.
Oxford, 696 pp., £45, June 1989, 0 19 710070 8
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Vienna and the Jews, 1867-1938: A Cultural History 
by Steven Beller.
Cambridge, 271 pp., £27.50, August 1989, 0 521 35180 4
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The German-Jewish Economic Elite 1820-1935: A Socio-Cultural Profile 
by W.E. Mosse.
Oxford, 369 pp., £35, October 1989, 0 19 822990 9
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Decadence and Innovation: Austro-Hungarian Life and Art at the Turn of the Century 
edited by Robert Pynsent.
Weidenfeld, 258 pp., £25, June 1989, 0 297 79559 7
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The Torch in My Ear 
by Elias Canetti, translated by Joachim Neugroschel.
Deutsch, 372 pp., £13.95, August 1989, 0 233 98434 8
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From Vienna to Managua: Journey of a Psychoanalyst 
by Marie Langer, translated by Margaret Hooks.
Free Association, 261 pp., £27.50, July 1989, 1 85343 057 9
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... a weapon – in the hands of the Government, to impose political uniformity, as in the reforms of Joseph II in the 1780s, and in the hands of ‘enlightened’ Jews, to raise the standards of their backward Galician brethren, still sunk in tradition and Hasidic superstition. For the feminist Bertha Pappenheim, the vocational schools endowed by Baron ...

Sisyphus at the Selectric

James Wolcott: Undoing Philip Roth, 20 May 2021

Philip RothThe Biography 
by Blake Bailey.
Cape, 898 pp., £30, April, 978 0 224 09817 5
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Philip RothA Counterlife 
by Ira Nadel.
Oxford, 546 pp., £22.99, May, 978 0 19 984610 8
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Here We Are: My Friendship with Philip Roth 
by Benjamin Taylor.
Penguin, 192 pp., £18, May 2020, 978 0 525 50524 2
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... the cobwebs from our hair: the starship arrival of Blake Bailey’s authorised biography of Philip Roth, Philip Roth: The Biography. The ‘the’ of the subtitle said: accept no substitutes. Another biography of Roth was in the offing, Ira Nadel’s Philip ...

In the Egosphere

Adam Mars-Jones: The Plot against Roth, 23 January 2014

Roth Unbound: A Writer and His Books 
by Claudia Roth Pierpont.
Cape, 353 pp., £25, January 2014, 978 0 224 09903 5
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... Claudia Roth Pierpont met Philip Roth at a birthday party in 2002. She was a fan, but managed not to alienate him with clumsy enthusiasm. A couple of years later he sent her a photocopy of a newspaper article he thought she might be interested in. They met for coffee and became more relaxed with each other ...

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