Zipper and His Father Paperback – 25 Apr 2013
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'Roths prose,...seemingly effortless and freighted with warmth and sorrow, ranks among the greatest literary pleasures of the last century' -- The Times
About the Author
Joseph Roth (1894-1939) was the great elegist of the cosmopolitan, tolerant and doomed Central European culture that flourished in the dying days of the Austrian Empire. He wrote thirteen novels, including Job and The Radetzky March. Much of his work has been published in English by Granta Books.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The son is a different kind of man. Arnold is of the stupid conviction that he wants to be his own man (`Selbst ist der Mann'), which makes everything harder for himself. He will not try to make use of the few chances of help that he might find, if he wanted it.
As in most of Roth's novels, WW1 is a watershed. Up to it, Zipper father lives in the illusion that his son is a talented person with a great future. The war stifles that illusion. The post-war calamities are a dead end to many of this lost generation. Arnold turns out to be an empty vessel, a lost soul.
The book was written right in the middle of Roth's two decades as a writer, towards the end of the 1920s. He was successful, so some extent, though I am not sure if it is a good sign that the book is dedicated to his lector at his publishing house. The style is different from most other Roth novels or stories, more realistic, more serious, more personal. We have a first person narrator, Roth's alter ego presumably, who knows Arnold Zipper from school and his parents from having been invited to their place often. And yet, he says he gets to notice Arnold as an individual only after WW1 is over and both young men have to survive in the brutal post war society of Vienna. (`The wind galloped through the city like a wet murderer.')
Roth wrote no other novel like this and I think he did the right thing. This is not the way for him, he needed to keep himself out of the picture.