Pub. Date:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
What I Saw: Reports from Berlin 1920-1933

What I Saw: Reports from Berlin 1920-1933

by Joseph Roth, Michael Hofmann
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"[Joseph Roth] is now recognized as one of the twentieth century's great writers."—Anthony Heilbut, Los Angeles Times Book Review

The Joseph Roth revival has finally gone mainstream with the thunderous reception for What I Saw, a book that has become a classic with five hardcover printings. Glowingly reviewed, What I Saw introduces a new generation to the genius of this tortured author with its "nonstop brilliance, irresistible charm and continuing relevance" (Jeffrey Eugenides, New York Times Book Review). As if anticipating Christopher Isherwood, the book re-creates the tragicomic world of 1920s Berlin as seen by its greatest journalistic eyewitness. In 1920, Joseph Roth, the most renowned German correspondent of his age, arrived in Berlin, the capital of the Weimar Republic. He produced a series of impressionistic and political essays that influenced an entire generation of writers, including Thomas Mann and the young Christopher Isherwood. Translated and collected here for the first time, these pieces record the violent social and political paroxysms that constantly threatened to undo the fragile democracy that was the Weimar Republic. Roth, like no other German writer of his time, ventured beyond Berlin's official veneer to the heart of the city, chronicling the lives of its forgotten inhabitants: the war cripples, the Jewish immigrants from the Pale, the criminals, the bathhouse denizens, and the nameless dead who filled the morgues. Warning early on of the dangers posed by the Nazis, Roth evoked a landscape of moral bankruptcy and debauched beauty—a memorable portrait of a city and a time of commingled hope and chaos. What I Saw, like no other existing work, records the violent social and political paroxysms that compromised and ultimately destroyed the precarious democracy that was the Weimar Republic.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393325829
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 07/19/2004
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 227
Sales rank: 350,975
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Joseph Roth (1894-1939) was the great elegist of the cosmopolitan culture that flourished in the dying days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He published several books and articles before his untimely death at the age of 44. Roth’s writing has been admired by J. M. Coetzee, Jeffrey Eugenides, Elie Wiesel, and Nadine Gordimer, among many others.

The poet Michael Hofmann has won numerous prizes for his German translations.

The poet Michael Hofmann has won numerous prizes for his German translations.

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There is a poem on every page of Joseph Roth.

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What I Saw: Reports from Berlin, 1920-1933 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
dougwood57 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Joseph Roth is best-known today as the author of the The Radetzky March (Works of Joseph Roth), but his day job was as a journalist. This book is a collection of columns he wrote as he observed daily life in Berlin. (The correct term for them is "feuilleton").The titles of the book's parts give a good indication of Roth's topics in the 34 selections published here for the first time in English; for example, the Jewish Quarter, Displaced Persons, Bourgeoisie and Bohemians, and Berlin's Pleasure Industry. While Roth mentions Hitler, Goebbels, and the Nazis occasionally, only the final chapter, Auto-da-Fe of the Mind, is devoted entirely to the subject.One thing I should make clear, Roth's book is NOT an exploration of the growing power of the Nazis. Given that Berliners came late to Nazism, this is perhaps not that surprising, but it came as a disappointment to me. (The subtitle's reference to 1920-1933 is a bit misleading. Only the final chapter was written in 1933 and the latest prior publication date for any other chapter was 1929.)Roth did not much like Berlin and his descriptions provide a counterbalance to the numerous views of Berlin's heyday in the 1920's. The book is indispensable to anyone with a great interest in Berlin, especially in the inter-war period, but otherwise of limited interest to most readers - unless you just enjoy a good and well-written feuilleton without regard to the subject matter.