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AUSTRIA IN DECLINE
on 10 September 1999
Perhaps Joseph Roth is not the most widely known name in the literary world however his masterpiece, The Radetzky March, still commands an important place in 20th century German literature. The book was written during the early 1930's and it achieved widespread acclaim until it was supressed by the Nazis along with so many other works by Jewish writers, artists and so forth. The book charts the history of the Trotta family through three generations from 1859-1916. The decadence and impending collapse of the Austrian Empire are described in beautifully crafted and vivid language. A dark mood pervades the story - it is rather like watching a great river flow placidly towards an inevitable water fall. The characterisation is excellent and Roth contrives to draw out every possible detail as the book moves inexorably from scene to scene.
The novel can be appreciated as great literature and also as a valuable historical document. The Radetzky March is an important commentary on the fall of the Austrian Empire and how the legacy of those times still effects the mores Austrian society today.
This is a sound translation from German into English although some words could have been left alone eg ' Yessir for Jawohl '. This edition deserves to bring the Radetzky March to a much wider audience and can be thoroughly recommended.