: The Radetzky March (Works of Joseph Roth) (): Joseph Roth, Joachim Neugroschel, Nadine Gordimer: Books. The Radetzky March charts the history of the Trotta family through three generations spanning the rise and fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Through the. (Book Jacket Status: Jacketed) By one of the most distinguished Austrian writers of our century, a portrait of three generations set against the panoramic.

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These chapters form roughly the first half of Part 1 and are all, somehow, introductory. Most of this is achieved by the time we reach Chapter 2, as the headlong rush slows down and we are presented with an important summer in the life of the young Carl Joseph Trotta.

It grinds to a standstill in Chapter 4, which mainly radtezky of a single excruciating visit on a wet afternoon. Carl Joseph, now a newly commissioned cavalry officer, is paying a duty call on the man, recently widowed, whose wife taught him all about magch that summer when he was still a schoolboy. This is a satire of an Austria rigidly constrained by rank, class and social etiquette.

It alienates him first from his father, who is of Slovenian peasant stock, and then his son, whom he educates to rxdetzky in the civil service.

The Radetzky March | Joseph Roth

He would have put him through military school, but for the experience he has when he tries to correct the re-writing of his own action in the crucial Battle of Solferino. His complaint about the standard school textbook containing the romanticised and falsified version of events goes up through the strata of Austrian society, right to the Kaiser, and then it comes back to him: He becomes embittered, withdrawing into gardening and small-game hunting, and will have nothing to do with any of them.

He only relates to his own son on the most formal level — remember that for later — and only once seems to open up: By this time his wife is long dead. His wife is the only female family member alive for any part of the narrative: The paterfamilias — far too grand a word for such a thinly-populated clan — grows old before his time and dies before his son reaches full adulthood.

None of this bodes well for the emotional development of the Trotta men. Now he is Herr District Captain Franz, Baron von Trotta und Sipolje — referred to only once by this overblown title, and afterwards only ever as the district captain or simply the father.

The butler and housekeeper know their place, know the timings of every routine and meal-time down to the last minute. Even before we meet this ridiculous man, Roth has prepared the ground.

Chapter 2 opens not with him, but with the bandmaster of Infantry Regiment No. Every week, as though rehearsing it for the first time, he makes his musicians succumb to his control while playing the tune with which they always begin.

And by having this little man conduct it, it comes to represent everything that is preposterously tradition-bound in early 20th Century Austria.

He is the inevitable product of his upbringing, so tightly buttoned-up he seems to have no inner life. But there are clues that something lurks beneath. He virtually destroyed one course after another… wiping them out. But before beginning to eat, he spends as much time looking. This is how he treats his son. Everything is done to a formula, from the ritual of the greeting at the beginning of the school holiday to the interrogation over the school year.

Nothing is easy, nothing is natural, because it has to be done in what he thinks is the right way.

It has made him almost a stranger to his son, whose foth response is always the same: For the first time maech, he visits his father on a Wednesday… but everything else at home is the same. Chapter 3 is another extraordinary event: But we get more clues to that inner life. His father has already set things up: Everything he has been feeling throughout the visit has been kept carefully hidden… but does the widower suspect something?


And then he does, calling to Carl Joseph as he walks down the garden path. I have orders from the district captain. He had taken them to the district captain, and the district captain had told him to return them himself. In doing so, he was following the orders of a superior.

He sees his father, because he always spends the hours between 5. Before he leaves, he lets it be known that his family is only to be served Hennessy. Whatever… outside, they see the sergeant, and the district captain greets him as he always does.

The Radetzky March – Joseph Roth

Roth spends the rest of Part 1 giving the impression that they never move on again. The ill-at-ease-looking Jewish doctor, back from months of sick-leave, is a man he immediately recognises as a soul-mate. At roht end of the excruciatingly hilarious visit to the brothel, as routine and rule-bound as everything else, Carl Joseph and Dr Demant are alone in not finding themselves paired off.

They are unsurprised at this, and perfectly at ease with it as they leave quietly. There are echoes and threads running through these chapters.

The Radetzky March

This picture is ubiquitous: The same night, he uses it to back up his own argument about how pointless everything has become: We wonder where this is going. Or is something else happening? Whatever, we never find out for certain. The question of guilt is irrelevant — which, I assume, is why Roth leaves it uncertain: The rradetzky, as Roth frequently makes clear, is that none of these people has enough to do.

Their lives are as meaningless as mwrch daily manoeuvres and exercises, trooping from the overstated Imperial grandeur of their regimental barracks and through the town to wherever it is that these take place. This all takes place in the long Chapter 7. The night before the duel, feeling dreadful, Carl Joseph eventually finds his only friend in a bar.

Together they reach a pitch of existential despair about the pointlessness of everything. The doctor remarks on their more illustrious grandfathers — his own was famous as the king of publicans in his central European district — and they agree how far they have both declined from these great antecedents. Roth wants us to accept that in the posturing, militaristic Austro-Hungarian Empire in peace-time the only certainty is the futility of everything.

Correct form is left behind as they are both utterly frank about their feelings, and muse on the tragic irony that this closeness is a prelude to the imminent death of one of them.

The doctor is reconciled to his own death. All this is his fault. Are we absolutely certain that the doctor will die before the end of Chapter 7? In fact, everything is in pieces and Carl Joseph decides he will move to a different regiment. He has the idea of moving to the Slovenian village of his ancestors, the Sipolje of the family title.

He has written to his father — always described, when he has anything meaningful to impart, as the most difficult writing he ever has to do — and has received a reply that is perfect in its well-rounded expressions of good form.

When she tells him to sit on the sofa, he sits, and she sits almost next to him. He is powerless to ignore her hand as it idly makes his way towards him, wishing he were in blinkers to block the sight of it. This is Carl Joseph as we have come to know him, incapable of acting in his ojseph right.

So Carl Joseph will be moving.

His decision to go back to the region where his great-grandfather was a peasant is arbitrary and absurd, as though he is attempting to ascribe some significance to a meaningless detail of the family story that has become a millstone for him.


The lives of these people seem to have been lived in a kind of unending limbo, but Roth reminds us that history has been happening, albeit elsewhere. A word about uniforms. The doctor had always thought that they looked like two corpses. He has scratched an inscription on the hilt: Carl Joseph puts it away and closes the door: It haunts Carl Joseph, it haunts the Kaiser, and it haunts another personification of outdated aristocratic pretensions in the Empire, Count Chojnicki.

He takes joseoh surviving members of that other family, the Trottas, to his stately hunting lodge in the forest on the eastern edge radetxky the Empire and alarms them with his doom-laden predictions. The point of view becomes much more marcg than in Part jkseph, so that Roth can explore the unfulfilling lives of more people, and the ripples of political unrest that reach even this far.

In a chapter that is more or less entirely dedicated to the gambling fever that sweeps through the regiment when the hotel owner opens a casino, we spend some pages inside the head of a certain Captain Wagner.

His marcu not the only head we get inside. Death haunts her too, in the form of the signs of ageing that she joswph only cope with by throwing herself into sex with whichever young men attract her. He knows how old he is, calculating it by arithmetic made slightly complicated, admittedly, by his birth ardetzky in August.

He might be in his eighties, but… but what? He is almost exactly as self-deceiving as Wagner about his powers, imagining that jose;h is only pretending to be the doddery old fool his lackeys take him for. On the day during which we follow his thoughts there are army exercises which he soon tires of, putting an early end to them so he can perform an inspection his lackeys let him think is important.

Death, with a capital D in all these chapters in this translation, is something he tries not to think about.

This is what Part 2 is like. Existential angst, which in Part 1 had been confined to moseph single night in a bar, now pervades everything in the Empire. And through it all Carl Joseph, beginning to look mach than his years, is looking for some meaning. His rifle regiment seems even more pointless to him than his old cavalry regiment had done, and conversations with various people convince him that there is no role for the army in peacetime.

And things are just as bad in his emotional life. In the train to Vienna, as he is seduced by an older woman with an entirely different agenda — or is it the same one? Later he discovers that her journey south from Vienna must be to meet Chojnicki.

What we are coming to realise, now and all through these rotth, is how isolated every character is from every other. On his return from Vienna he is nominated as the man to lead a platoon given the task to keep the peace during a strike at the local factory.

He is as clueless as his father about the political currents underlying this; Roth never presents the reader with the big picture because, I assume, he wants to give an impression of how Carl Joseph has no sense of anything beyond his own narrow horizons. He responds to what happens when the strikers confront his platoon exactly as you would expect: His soldiers shoot, and he himself is wounded by marh striker. Ravetzky is the incident the Kaiser has to save him from.