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The Wandering Jews [Paperback]

Joseph Roth , Michael Hofmann
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: 8.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

4 Jun 2013
The first English translation of Joseph Roth's portrayal of the Jews of Eastern Europe: their poverty, their towns and trades, their feast days and the mysticism of their rabbis. Roth was conscious that this was a community living under the threat of extermination.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 170 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Publications; New edition edition (4 Jun 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1862074704
  • ISBN-13: 978-1862074705
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 797,850 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

As a journalist, Joseph Roth's greatest strength, and perhaps his greatest weakness, was his self-professed "love" for his subjects. Roth, who is best known for his novels (particularly The Radetsky March), was the star journalist for the Frankfurter Zeitung in the early 1920s, when he began writing stories that led to The Wandering Jews. This book, newly translated by Michael Hofmann, is a masterpiece of literary journalism whose political prescience (regarding tensions between Eastern and Western Jews, and the too-easy consolations of assimilation) is grounded in eclectic character studies (of, for instance, Parisian elites, a carnival performer from Radziwillow, a dock worker in Odessa). In an age of idea-driven journalism, when stories are often tailored to prove a writer's pre-existing thesis, Roth's lovingly inductive reasoning is refreshing. And his aphoristic insights are as spontaneous as they are circumspect. ("When a catastrophe occurs, people on hand are shocked into helpfulness".) The statement that best summarises Roth's belief about the unalterable fate of the Jews also epitomises the polished spontaneity of his style: Roth writes that wandering is "a tribulation that is appropriate to all Jews, and to all others besides. Lest we forget that nothing in this world endures, not even a home; and that our life is short, shorter even than the life of the elephant, the crocodile, and the crow. Even the parrots outlive us". --Michael Joseph Gross --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

'This [is a] rich little book...Roth's gift of phrasing, which can switch without warning from lyrical sentiment to irony, never deserts him' Observer; 'This new book contains superb reportage' The Irish Times; 'Almost every page has flashes of the novelist's descriptive wit and the trained journalist's eye for a story' Sunday Telegraph; 'It shows some prophetic insights, and some illusions' Evening Standard; 'The Wandering Jews reconnects with the rich complexities of European Jewish culture before it was swallowed up by the Holocaust. Roth's brilliant and penetrating analysis proved tragically prophetic. At this distance, it gives a timeless perspective on the vulnerability of dispossessed people everywhere' The Times; 'Of the many books written about the Jewish people few have approached the clarity and exactness achieved in this short, astonishing study. Roth's reportage remains vivid and pertinent. As a cultural study of a homeless, persecuted race it is as perceptive as it is practical. His lightness of touch always prevails. Above all the fiction is unforgettable, the prose fluid and beautiful. It must also be said he is a forgotten master- the fiction is evocative, atmospheric and accessible. Read everything he has written - and wonder at one of literature's most enduring, beguiling and deserving voices' Eileen Battersby, The Irish Times; 'Roth...is one of the greatest. Why he was forgotten, I have no idea...In The Wandering Jews, a book dozens of times larger than itself in love and argument and stern sympathy...[Roth] also demonstrates that war is not necessary to break our faith. Only civilisation is. Only a writer who had chosen to live with that sound of shattering could do that.' New Statesman

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The Eastern Jew in his homeland knows nothing of the social injustice of the West; nothing of the habitual bias that governs the actions, decisions, and opinions of the average Western European; nothing of the narrowness of the Western perspective,jagged with factory smokestacks and framed by power plants; nothing of the sheer hatred that, like a life-prolonging (though lethal) drug, is so powerful that it is tended like a sort of Eternal Flame, at which these selfish people and nations warm themselves. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Wandering Jews 19 April 2011
This is a lovely little book written by Joseph Roth in 1927. Joseph Roth was born in Brody (now in the Ukraine) where my mother's family originated, and I was interested to see the way he portrayed the movement of Eastern European Jews to the West at the turn of the twentieth century, e.g Vienna and what he had to say about them. My mother's family too left for Vienna in 1899. Although Roth himself moved away from Brody and settled to work as a writer and journalist in Vienna, Berlin and eventually in Paris where he died in 1939, he defends the culture of the shtetls in Eastern Europe against the 'smokestacks' and hatred that Jews find as they travel west to make a better life. Well worth reading.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Wandering Jews 9 Sep 2010
This a short presentation by the Jewish writer Joseph Roth. He visited the countries he has written about and gives an indication of the lives of those who considered themselves to be Jewish. It is essential reading for anyone who wants a greater understanding of the position of Jews especially in Europe although Roth does cover America.

Roth died in 1937,bearing in mind the Second World War did not begin until 1938, his summary is chillingly prophetic
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Plenty of insights, but ultimately lightweight 4 Feb 2002
By A Customer
The recent publication of Roth's musings on the Jews has brought positive reviews, many of them making more than a nod in the direction of the respected translator Michael Hofmann. Such praise for the translation is largely well-deserved. The only possible quibble concerns the occasional point in the (English) text where the momentum of the piece is halted by an odd, often non-English usage (possibly done for deliberate effect). One can almost hear the gears grinding in the translator's (rather than the author's) brain.
However, despite the useful insights it provides into Jewish life (and into Roth's views on Jewish life - not the same thing, of course), this rather haphazard accumulation of anecdotes ultimately adds up to something rather disappointing and lightweight. Too many of the details fall flat in their determinedly quotidian meanderings, rather than coming across as valuable insights "from the horse's mouth", as it were. In Roth's own novels, and the work of other German writers such as Günter Grass, such an accretion of detail adds up to a kind of symbolic naturalism that teaches us things at both micro and macro level, about both the immediate context and the wider world. Removed from the discipline of plot, the descriptions have nothing to drive them forward but the reader's own hindsight.
Nevertheless, such visions of a vanished world are, of course, valuable per se precisely because much of what they describe (the Jewish culture of Eastern Europe) was largely wiped out. The slim volume is therefore worth a read for anybody interested in the field.
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